Tuesday, June 30, 2009

David Friesen & Mal Waldron - Remembering Mal (1985)

1. If I Were A Bell
2. Fire Waltz
3. Round About Midnight
4. With A Song In My Heart
5. You Mean Me
6. Someday My Prince Will Come
7. All God's Chillung Got Rhythm

Mal Waldron (piano); David Friesen (bass)

Recorded Live on July, 1985 at the Hyatt on Sunset, L.A, California.

Ike Quebec - Soul Samba

Between his roles as A&R rep, narcotic supplier, and caterer, Quebec had a far more pronounced effect on the Blue Note sound than he has been given credit for. He'd make sure the bands got paid for rehearsal, and that some kind of lunch (and other comforts) would be available: this led to better sessions than many, where the band would show up, knock off a few things, get paid, and then bounce. He also hipped Lion to Monk.

With his thick, ingratiating sound and elegant romanticism, it only made sense for Ike Quebec to try his hand at the bossa nova boom Stan Getz kick-started in 1962, and that's what he did with Soul Samba. However, Quebec makes the session much more than mere bandwagon-jumping. He takes some chances with the repertoire and consciously adds a heavy blues inflection that makes Soul Samba one of the more unique interpretations of the bossa nova style. It's also one of the more sensuous, thanks in part to the combination of Quebec's natural tendencies and the soft, light style itself, but even more so with the extra bit of meat added via the blues. The music is warm and danceable, yet with a late-evening hush that's more suggestive of winding down and getting cozy with someone. Quebec's choices of material are never obvious -- the Brazilian selections do not include any Jobim standards, for one thing, and both Quebec and guitarist Kenny Burrell (absolutely stellar in support) contribute original material that ranks among the album's best performances (particularly Quebec's "Blue Samba" and Burrell's "Loie"). What's more, Quebec adapts some unlikely sources -- the traditional standard "Liebestraum" and the Dvorak theme "Goin' Home" -- into surprisingly effective samba pieces. The whole project is thoughtfully conceived and beautifully executed, treating bossa nova as a new means of personal expression, not just a fad to be cashed in on. Sadly, Soul Samba was Quebec's final album, but at least his career ended on a high note. Steve Huey

Ike Quebec (tenor sax)
Kenny Burrell (guitar)
Wendell Marshall (bass)
Willie Bobo (drums)
Garvin Masseaux (chekere)

1. Loie
2. Lloro Tu Despedida
3. Goin' Home
4. Me 'N You
5. Liebestraum
6. Shu Shu
7. Blue Samba
8. Favela
9. Linda Fior
10. Loie
11. Shu Shu (alt)
12. Favela (alt)

Seegs brings us ...

...and please note that it is Seegs and only Seegs that brings us this remarkable and popular series.

The Best Pianists You Never Heard…Maybe: Part 7—Ronnie Mathews

Dark Before the Dawn

Doin’ the Thang

Ronnie Mathews died almost exactly one year ago at the age of 72. His AAJ biography states, “One of the most prestigious pianists of the past 40 years and yet one of those essential contributors to the puzzle of jazz history who has not received due recognition. It seems Ronnie Mathews would be more a household name than it is, for his lofty investment into jazz. His years of touring and his many albums, both as leader and sideman, are overwhelming in number. Critics have showered accolades upon his name and affectionately compare him to fellow pianists Thelonious Monk and Bud Powell, with a sprinkle of McCoy Tyner. Not that Ronnie ever imitated them, but rather, that he is in league with these jazz greats.”

He is certainly more heard that heard of: “Ronnie Mathews is a superhero in disguise! For all he's done, you may not know it was him. Hopefully the oncoming months will bring Ronnie into the spotlight, where the world will acknowledge all he's accomplished!” You’ll find occupying the piano bench on numerous postings at CIA and now it is time to help elevate him from the ranks of the underappreciated.

Dark Before the Dawn

Ronnie Mathews piano
Ray Drummond bass
Billy Higgins drums

1. End of a Love Affair
2. Dark Before the Dawn
3. Don’t Explain/You Don’t Know What Love Is
4. Theme from MASH
5. Meaning Something
6. One for Trane
7. You Leave Me Breathless

Yanow dips into his bag of clichés and says, “Throughout his trio CD, he is heard in particularly inventive form, especially during a swinging "The End of a Love Affair," a driving version of "One for Trane" and a boppish rendition of "You Leave Me Breathless." The support by bassist Ray Drummond and drummer Billy Higgins is conventional but tasteful, with the focus very much on Mathews' appealing style.”

Doin’ the Thang

Ronnie Mathews piano
Freddie Hubbard trumpet
Charles Davis baritone sax
Eddie Kahn bass
Albert Heath drums

1. The Thang
2. Ihci Ban [sic]
3. The Orient
4. Let’s Get Down
5. Prelude to a Kiss
6. 1239-A

Doin’ the Thang was Ronnie Mathews first record as a leader. The AMG review is so bad (that is, poorly written and based around a senseless figure of speech) that you’ll have to take it on faith that this a very, very good album. It’s filled with Mathews’ clever inventions yet drives hard without losing the beat. My only complaint is that the CD is packaged in one of the replica LP covers that don’t fit on the shelf with the rest of your CDs and cannot be read by anyone over the age of 30.

Charlie Parker - Bird's Eyes Volume 1 & 4 {Philology W 518-2}

Charlie Parker - Bird's Eyes, Last Unissued, Volumes 1 & 4 (Philology W 5/18-2)

Be warned: the sound quality on most of this is abysmal. This is the first CD issue of the material issued first on the Philology LPs, Volume 1 and Volume 4.

Or, as the label states, "It's Not Hi-Fi Bird, But It's Hi Bird!"

Of special note here are the two recordings of Bird with Lennie Tristano (and Kenny Clarke playing drum brushes on a phone book) at Tristano's apartment in 1951. These tracks appear on the soundtrack "Bird", with overdubbed musicians. "Honey/Body" appears as well, but it is certainly inferior to Media 7's 'unissued long version'
(see Rab's post of "Young Bird Volumes 1 & 2").

Collective personnel: Charlie Parker (as); Miles Davis, Kenny Dorham (tp); Irving "Duke" Jordan (p); Thelonious Monk, Walter Bishop, Jr., Lennie Tristano, Al Haig (p); Teddy Blume (vln); Unknown (strings); Tommy Potter, Teddy Kotick, Walter Yost (b); Roy Haynes, Max Roach (d); Candido Camero (cga); Kenny Clarke (brushes); Kenny Hagood, Carmen McRae, Earl Coleman (voc).

Wardell Gray - Volume 7 1947-1948 Complete Edition

Tracks 16-18 (opening night at Click) are otherwise unissued. See Rab's Dragon CD post for more from this group. Connor & Hicks ("BG On The Record") list MANY broadcasts from this time period - hopefully they all eventually surface.
Wardell Gray - Volume 7 
Dec. 1947-May 1948
Masters Of Jazz MJCD 198


Ernie Royal (tp); Benny Goodman (cl); Vido Musso, Wardell Gray (ts); Red Norvo (vib); Mel Powell (p); Red Callander (b); Lee Young (d).
AFRS/Just Jazz No. H83 Shrine Auditorium, Los Angeles, 27 Dec. 1947
1. I Never Knew

Ake "Stan" Hasselgard (cl); Wardell Gray (ts); Dodo Marmarosa (p); Al Hendrickson (g); prob. Clyde Lombardi or Harry Babasin (b); Frank Bode (d), Frances Wayne (voc).
AFRS broadcast Los Angeles, prob. Dec. 1947
2. C Jam Blues
3. Anytime
4. How High the Moon

Big band including Benny Carter (as, arr, dir); Al Grey, Henry Coker (tb); Wardell Gray (ts).
AFRS Jubilee No. 284 McCormack Hospital, Pasadena, CA, 30 March 1948
5. Bop Bounce
6. One O'Clock Jump

Wardell Gray (ts); Al Haig (p); Clyde Lombardi (b); Tiny Kahn (d).
Sittin' In Records New York, April 1948
7. C-126 Light Gray (Dumpy)
8. C-127-A Stoned (Finsterness)
9. C-127-B Stoned (Baldy)
10. C-128 Matter And Mind (Nothing)
11. C-129 The Toup

Joe Newman (tp); Benny Green (tb); Wardell Gray (ts); Tate Houston (bar); Al Haig (p); Al McKibbon (b); J.C. Heard (d).
Apollo New York, May 1948
12. R-1317 Ollopa
13. R-1318 This Is It
14. R-1319 Sugar Hips
15. R-1320 Coastin' with J. C.

Benny Goodman (cl, dir); Stan Hasselgard (cl); Wardell Gray (ts); Teddy WIlson (p); Billy Bauer (g); Arnold Fishkin (b); Mel Zelnick (d); Patti Page (voc).
NBC broadcast Click Restaurant, Philadelphia, PA, 24 May 1948
16. Stompin' at the Savoy
17. Limehouse Blues
18. On the Sunny Side of the Street
19. Cookin' One Up (incomplete)

NBC broadcast Click Restaurant, Philadelphia, PA, 27 May 1948
20. Swedish Pastry
21. Mary's Idea

Bob Florence - Serendipity 18 (1998)

In 1964, Dizzy Gillespie told Nat Hentoff that "improvisation is the meat of jazz... The jazz composer's ideas have always come from the instrumentalist." At that time, Gillespie had lived some 30 years of jazz history and participated in more than one of its innovations. Bob Florence has, as much as any contemporary jazz composer, put dictum into action. It's evident not only in the generous allotment of solo space in Florence's charts, but in the way that he crafts settings for his various players.

Informed of Gillespie's observation, Florence laughs and says, "That sounds like a good idea to me. I've always been influenced by players. I always think of soloists when I write and I know exactly who's going to play a solo." - Kirk Silsbee

Once upon a time, when hundreds of big bands roamed this continent in search of bread and success, conditions were not as favorable as they are now. Gigs may have been more plentiful in those ballroom- and theater-filled decades, but life on the road was certainly not conducive to good health or financial stability, as even the best paid sidemen often scuffled in between strings of one-nighters. Bad food, lack of proper sleep, unwashed clothes, excessive boozing, and loneliness, only occasionally relieved by fleeting sexual encounters, characterized the life of the average traveling musician. And for black musicians it was even tougher. Nowadays, though, it's all so different. For example, Bob Florence, a long-established pianist and composer/arranger, can now summon within brief notice a flawless crew of L.A. jazz studiomen to show up fully prepared whenever he has a record date. No agonizing all-night driving from one gig to the next, no sweating out the paycheck, no struggling with bad reeds, leaky homes, or out-of-tune pianos, for these guys have already been through it all and emerged triumphant.

For this release, Bob brought together seven extended charts of both his and others' compositions: the provocative "Serendipity 18," written expressly for this 18-man crew; Stanley Turrentine's "Sugar"; the haunting minor "Tres Palabras," a 1940s pop bolero better known by its English title, "Without You"; "Now Playing," a showcase for trumpeter/flugelhornist Carl Saunders; "Bimbosity," a stunning Hamilton-esque feature for clarinetists Don Shelton and Terry Harrington; "Evelyn," a multi-tempoed tour de force for altomen Shelton and Kim Richmond; and the ambitious three-part "3 E Motions," which is also notable for excellent solos by trumpeters Steve Huffsteter, Ron Stout, and Saunders, tenorman Jeff Driskill, baritonist Bob Carr, and drummer Dick Weller. Other impressive soloists heard on earlier tracks are trombonists Alex Iles and Bob McChesney, baritonist Bob Efford, Shelton on soprano, and Harrington on tenor. - Jack Sohmer

Serendipity 18 won the Grammy for Best Jazz Performance by a Large Ensemble in 2000. Florence died of pneumonia on May 15, 2008, two weeks shy of his 76th birthday.

Carl Saunders, George Graham, Wayne Bergeron, Rick Baptist, Steve Huffsteter, Ron Stout (trumpet)
Alex Iles, Charlie Loper, Bob McChesney, Don Waldrop (trombone)
Don Shelton, Kim Richmond, Jeff Driskill, Terry Harrington, Bob Carr, Bob Efford (reeds)
Bob Florence (piano, arranger)
Trey Henry (bass)
Dick Weller (drums)
  1. Serendipity 18
  2. Sugar
  3. Tres Palabras
  4. Now Playing
  5. Bimbosity
  6. Evelyn
  7. 3 E-Motions Part 1
  8. 3 E-Motions Part 2
  9. 3 E-Motions Part 3
Recorded August 27-28, 1998

Teddy Wilson - The Legendary Small Groups Volume 1 1935-1937 (1998) {MJCD 150}

Complementary Works
Masters Of Jazz MJCD 150
Contains 30-page booklet

This series concentrates on small-band sides made under Teddy Wilson's name without a featured female vocalist. His recordings with Billie Holiday and other female singers are covered seperately in their respective series and are therefore not included here.

Brunswick New York, July 31, 1935
1. B17916-1 Sweet Lorraine

Brunswick New York, December 3, 1935
2. B18317-1 Sugar Plum

Brunswick New York, January 30, 1936
3. B18613-1 (If I Had) Rhythm In My Nursery Rhymes

Brunswick New York, March 17, 1936
4. B18829-1 Christopher Columbus

Brunswick Chicago, May 14, 1936
5. C1376-1 Mary Had A Little Lamb
6. C1377-2 Too Good To Be True
7. C1378-1 Warmin' Up
8. C1379-1 Blues In C Sharp Minor

Brunswick New York, June 30, 1936
9. B19497-2 Why Do I Lie To Myself About You?

Brunswick Los Angeles, August 24, 1936
10. LA1160-A You Turned The Tables On Me
11. LA1161-A Sing, Baby, Sing

Brunswick New York, November 19, 1936
12. B20292-2 Sailin'

Broadcast "Let's Listen to Lucidin"
New York, November 25, 1936
13. I Got Rhythm

Brunswick New York, December 16, 1936
14. B20412-2 Tea For Two
15. B20413-1 I'll See You In My Dreams

Brunswick New York, March 31, 1937
16. B20914-1 Fine And Dandy

Brunswick New York, April 23, 1937
17. B21037-1 I'm Coming Virginia

Brunswick New York, June 1, 1937
18. B21220-1 I've Found A New Baby
19. B21220-3 I've Found A New Baby

Brunswick Los Angeles, July 30, 1937
20. LA1383-A Coquette
21. LA1383-B Coquette

Brunswick Los Angeles, August 29, 1937
22. LA1405-A You Can't Stop Me From Dreaming
23. LA1405-B You Can't Stop Me From Dreaming

Brunswick Los Angeles, August 29, 1937
24. LA1408-A Ain't Misbehavin'
25. LA1408-B Ain't Misbehavin'

Fats Waller - The Last Years (1940-1943)

This was posted here one year ago today.

Since all of the previous Fats Waller Rhythm reissue series start off in 1934 and get discontinued before reaching the '40s, this time around the newest program has started out with Waller's last recordings and is working its way backwards. This essential three-CD set contains the pianist/vocalist/composer's last 63 studio recordings. Some of the titles are quite laughable ("Little Curly Hair in a High Chair," "You're a Square from Delaware," "Abercrombie Had a Zombie" and "Come Down to Earth My Angel") but Waller manages to either satirize or save virtually all of the somewhat dubious material. There are some out-and-out classics included on this set too, including "Fats Waller's Original E Flat Blues," "All That Meat and No Potatoes" and "The Jitterbug Waltz"; this wonderful set of spirited music concludes with "Ain't Misbehavin'" from the soundtrack of Stormy Weather. ~ Scott Yanow

Box sets are an unlikely way to begin collecting an artist, but there's an addictive pull to Fats Waller's work. He was a larger-than-life personality who could leap from earnest sentimentality to outright mockery in the next breath, or take a lightweight novelty tune and make it far more novel with a few verbal and musical touches. While jazz has had numerous pianists who hum, grunt, or mumble while they're playing, Waller was the only one who could turn the compulsion into comic patter, and there have been few pianists who have had a comparable impact on the way the instrument is played. There are 64 tracks on this three CD-set, chronicling Waller's band and orchestra recordings for RCA Victor in the three years before his death, in 1943. As with other volumes in the series, there's a host of surprises. Waller's a fountain of verbal and musical invention, whether it's reinventing the lyrics of Lil Armstrong's "You Run Your Mouth" or creating the delicate organ-guitar dialogue of "Mamacita" with guitarist Al Casey. Two of Waller's most enduring compositions are heard in singular versions here. "Jitterbug Waltz" gets its first performance with Waller playing organ with a big band, while "Ain't Misbehavin'," the last tune here, is heard in an inspired rendition with altoist Benny Carter and drummer Zutty Singleton. --Stuart Broomer

Fats Waller (piano, celeste, vocals)
Gene Sedric (tenor sax, clarinet)
Benny Carter (trumpet)
Herman Autrey (trumpet)
Irving Ashby (guitar)
Al Casey (guitar)
Slam Stewart (bass)
Zutty Singleton (drums)

John Coltrane - Kulu Se Mama

Posted here two years ago today, this was one of our early flac releases. I think MP3 is still more popular - or at least more common - in Blogland.

The twelve months between John Coltrane's A Love Supreme and Meditations were a very productive period. The first half brought forth work mostly by his quartet; the second began Coltrane's experimentation with different-sized ensembles. This unique release comprises sessions from both sides of that evolutionary divide.

"Vigil" is the kind of fiery saxophone-drum duet that was rarely done in the studio. The title track comes from a period when Coltrane started his own recordings, inviting newcomers to join him. With its use of ritual and diverse idioms, underpinned by percussion, it is a striking example of multiculturalism recorded many years before that word was widely used.

In 1965 John Coltrane was experimenting in a number of directions, regularly augmenting his long-standing quartet with McCoy Tyner, Jimmy Garrison, and Elvin Jones. He began a West Coast tour in the fall with tenor saxophonist Pharoah Sanders as a regular member of the band, and in Seattle he added Donald Garrett, playing both bass clarinet and bass, and drummer Frank Butler to the group before heading to Los Angeles to perform and record. The title track was composed by Juno Lewis, a singer and percussionist who brought a strongly African element into the expanding band. The chanted vocal and layered rhythms create one of Coltrane's most evocative performances, at once tranquil and potent, a gorgeous tapestry of percussion and reed sonorities that suggests a ritual. "Selflessness," recorded with the same group minus Lewis, is one of Coltrane's most luminous themes, a brief and exalted melody that's repeated and gradually expanded into a kind of serene chaos. The developing relationship between Coltrane and Sanders is particularly arresting, the two saxophonists both mirroring and expanding one another's ideas in stunning joint improvisations. These tracks are balanced by some classic quartet pieces recorded a few months earlier. - Stuart Broomer

This LP, whose contents have been reissued in different sets on CD, features John Coltrane in two different settings. "Vigil" and the spiritual ballad "Welcome" showcase tenor saxophonist Coltrane with his classic quartet (pianist McCoy Tyner, bassist Jimmy Garrison, and drummer Elvin Jones) in June 1965. Dating from October 14, 1965, it adds tenor saxophonist Pharoah Sanders, Donald Garrett on bass clarinet and second bass, second drummer Frank Butler, and percussionist-vocalist Juno Lewis to the quartet and is a bit of an oddity. Lewis' chanting and colorful percussion make this a unique if not essential entry in Coltrane's discography. It was re-released in 2000. ~ Scott Yanow

John Coltrane (tenor sax, jingle bells, percussion)
Frank Butler (vocals, drums, percussion)
Juno Lewis (vocals, hand drums, conch shell, percussion)
Pharoah Sanders (tenor saxophone, kalimba, percussion)
Donald Rafael Garrett (bass clarinet, bass, percussion)
McCoy Tyner (piano)
Jimmy Garrison (bass)
Elvin Jones (drums)

1 - Kulu Se Mama
2 - Vigil
3 - Welcome
4 - Selflessness
5 - Dusk Dawn
6 - Dusk Dawn alternative take

Recorded at the Van Gelder Studio, Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey on June 10 and 16, 1965 and at Western Recorders, Los Angeles, California on October 14, 1965

Monday, June 29, 2009

Gil Evans - The Complete Instrumental Charts For Claude Thornhill 1942-1947

(P) & © 1999 Musisoft MJCD 154
Contains 40-Page Illustrated Booklet.


Columbia New York City, 19 June 1942
1. Buster's Last Stand <>

Columbia New York City, 24 or 25 July 1942
2. There's A Small Hotel <>

Columbia New York City, 17 July 1946
3. Arab Dance <>

Langworth Transcription prob. Liederkrantz Hall, New York City, late 1946
4. La Paloma

Langworth Transcription prob. Liederkrantz Hall, New York City, late 1946 or June 1947
5. The Troubador

Columbia New York City, 4 Sep. 1947
6. Anthropology <>

Columbia New York City, 17 Oct. 1947
7. Robbin's Nest <>

Columbia New York City, 6 Nov. 1947
8. Lover Man <>
9. Polka Dots And Moonbeams <>
10. The Happy Stranger <>
11. Donna Lee <>

Columbia New York City, 17 Dec. 1947
12 Yardbird Suite <>

Associated Transcription New York City, from the same period
13. Donna Lee
14. Puttin' And Takin'
15. Anthropology
16. Sunday Drivin'

Various Transcriptions New York City, prob. late 1947/ early 1948
17. Anthropology
18. The Song Is You
19. Royal Garden Blues
20. Spanish Dance #5
21. Someone To Watch Over Me

Walt Dickerson - Relativity (1962)

Largely continuing the blueprint of A Sense of Direction, Relativity finds Walt Dickerson mixing standards with adventurous yet upbeat originals. This time around, though, there's a subtext to Dickerson's standards selection: all three -- "It Ain't Necessarily So," "I Can't Get Started," and "Autumn in New York" -- had been previously recorded by Milt Jackson, which invited explicit comparisons and gave Dickerson a chance to show off how distinctive and pioneering his Coltrane-influenced approach to vibes really was. As for his originals, Dickerson is once again in a good mood, offering bursts of up-tempo energy in "Steppin' Out" and the title track, as well as a playfully swinging tribute to his eight-year-old sister titled "Sugar Lump." On the more cerebral side, there's a free-form dialogue with bassist Ahmed Abdul-Malik, "The Unknown," which features some of Dickerson's freest playing. If there is a flaw with Relativity, it's that it doesn't have quite the same spark of revelation as Dickerson's first two albums; critics were beginning to identify his brief note clusters and stop-start phrasing as stylistic trademarks, and aside from the duet with Abdul-Malik, the record doesn't really push Dickerson's sound into new territory. Still, taken independently of context, Relativity is another fine recording and one of the better pieces of Dickerson's underappreciated legacy. (Steve Huey)

1.- Relativity
2.- It Ain't Necessarily So
3.- I Can't Get Started
4.- Steppin' Out
5.- The Unknown
6.- Sugar Lump
7.- Autumn In New York

Walt Dickerson (vibes); Austin Crowe (piano); Ahmed Abdul-Malik (bass); Andrew Cyrille (drums)

Recorded in Englewood Cliffs, NJ on January 16, 1962.

Terry Gibbs Dream Band - Flying Home, Volume 3

I am not the biggest fan of big bands - or let me put it another way; I am not always impressed when bands have star performers because they are often lost in the arrangements or are severely limited in the time they have, if any, to improvise. This Gibbs outfit, though, is a players dream. Not for nothing is this considered by many to be one of the all time great big bands - not the least by Gibbs himself - and as the Penguin Guide points out, the sound is "amazingly good".

The third CD in this five-volume series draws its material from the same live sessions that resulted in the first two Terry Gibbs Dream Band releases, but contains all previously unheard performances. Ranging from well-known standards ("Avalon," "I'm Getting Sentimental Over You" and "Flying Home") to more recent tunes ("Airegin" and Gibbs' "It Might As Well Be Swing") and originals by arrangers Bill Holman, Bob Brookmeyer and Al Cohn, the music stays consistently colorful and swinging. Gibbs had some of the top L.A.-based players in his big band, which lasted from 1959-62, and among the key soloists on this set are trumpeter Conte Candoli, Bill Holman, Bill Perkins and Med Flory on tenor, and altoists Joe Maini and Charles Kennedy. ~ Scott Yanow

Terry Gibbs (vibraphone)
Conte Candoli (trumpet)
Bill Holman (tenor sax)
Richie Kamuca (tenor sax)
Bill Perkins (tenor sax)
Bob Enevoldsen (trombone)
Pete Jolly (piano)
Lou Levy (piano)
Stu Williamson (trumpet)
Pat Moran (piano)
Joe Maini (alto sax)
Frank Rosolino (trombone)
Max Bennett (bass)
Mel Lewis (drums)

1. Airegin
2. Just Plain Meyer
3. Midnight Sun
4. Evil Eyes
5. Avalon
6. Moten Swing
7. Bright Eyes
8. Wonderful You
9. I'm Getting Sentimental Over You
10. It Might as Well Be Swing
11. Flying Home

Recorded live at the Seville, Hollywood: March 17-19, 1959 and at the Sundown, Hollywood: November 1959

Frank Mantooth - Dangerous Precedent (1992)

A well-respected big band arranger, Frank Mantooth has written for a countless number of orchestras and musicians since the early 1970's. A graduate of North Texas State University and the Austrian Akadamie fuer Musik, he was active as a pianist, composer, arranger, clinician, educator and recording artist. Frank’s five albums “Suite Tooth,” “Persevere,” “Dangerous Precedent,” “Sophisticated Lady” and “A Miracle” garnered a total of eleven Grammy nominations in both writing and playing categories.

Dangerous Precedent features the Frank Mantooth Jazz Orchestra with Mantooth's arrangements and guest artists Clark Terry, Bobby Shew and Ramsey Lewis. This album also introduced the jazz world to vocalist Kevin Mahogany. Clark Terry has a flugelhorn feature on "Imagination", Bobby Shew plays "You've Changed" on trumpet and flugelhorn, Ramsey Lewis does his own composition, "Amber Morning Daydream", and Kevin Mahogany sings "Moonlight in Vermont" and Leroy Carr's "In the Evening" which also has a solo by Ramsey Lewis.

There are a number of other fine players and soloists in the band. Along the way we hear from Kim Park on alto sax and flute, Scott Robinson and Ed Peterson on tenor sax, and Danny Barber and Jeff Jarvis on trumpet. Frank Mantooth on piano, Danny Embrey on guitar, Kelly Sill on bass, and Steve Houghton on drums also have their moments in the spotlight.

Frank Mantooth (piano, arranger, leader)
Roger Ingram, Danny Barber, Bobby Shew, Jeff Jarvis, Mike Steinel (trumpet)
Steve Wiest, Paul McKee, Tom Garling, Mark Bettcher, Leland Gause (trombone)
Howie Smith, Kim Park, Ed Peterson, Scott Robinson, Jerry DiMuzio (reeds)
Matt Harris (keyboards)
Danny Embrey, Steve Erquiaga (guitar)
Kelly Sill, Curt Bley, Bob Bowman (bass)
Steve Houghton (drums)
Alejo Poveda (percussion)

Guest Soloists:
Clark Terry (flugelhorn)
Bobby Shew (trumpet, flugelhorn)
Ramsey Lewis (piano)
Kevin Mahogany (vocals)
  1. Moonlight in Vermont
  2. Summertime
  3. Nock First
  4. You've Changed
  5. Amber Morning Daydream
  6. Imagination
  7. Dangerous Precedent
  8. Naomi
  9. Should You Feel Like Cryin'
  10. In the Evening

Carl Kress and George Barnes - Two Guitars And A Horn

One of the first Jazz records I ever bought were a pair of Yazoo releases: Pioneers of the Jazz Guitar, and the Eddie Lang release. They have remained favorites for a long while, and were my first exposure to these guys. Much, much better players than Condon (although to Condon's credit, he never made great claims for his playing. Nor did anyone else,) they were involved with some of the better things of that period we've been listening to lately.

"On the follow-up to Two Guitars, the great guitarists George Barnes and Carl Kress once again team up on seven more standards to contrast their single-note lines and unique chord voicings, respectively. The second side of this LP has the duo becoming a trio with the addition of tenor saxophonist Bud Freeman, who contributes the colorfully titled originals "The Eel's Nephew" and "Disenchanted Trout." Timeless small-group swing music well worth acquiring." ~ Scott Yanow

"One of the great guitarists of the 1930s, Carl Kress had a very sophisticated chordal style on acoustic guitar. He originally played banjo before gradually shifting to guitar. Kress played with Paul Whiteman in 1926 and then became a very busy studio musician, recording with all of the top white musicians (including Bix Beiderbecke, Red Nichols' Five Pennies, and two classic duets with Eddie Lang) in those segregated days. Kress often teamed up with fellow guitarist Dick McDonough in the 1930s, he co-owned the Onyx Club on 52nd Street for a time, and continued working in the studios into the 1960s, playing during his last years in a duo with George Barnes. Most of Carl Kress' solo and duet (with McDonough) recordings from the 1930s are long overdue to be reissued." ~ Scott Yanow

Eddie Heywood - 1950-1951 (Chronological 1360)

First posted a year ago today, if you check the older posts you'll find a second volume of Heywood. (Hint: they were posted the same day.)

Perfectly suited for the task of providing attractive and accessible music for public consumption, jazz pianist Eddie Heywood, Jr. occupies a comfortable stylistic plateau somewhere between the flashy Herman Chittison and the painterly Erroll Garner. Famous as an accompanist for Billie Holiday and leader of a widely acclaimed small group that recorded for the Commodore label during the early and mid-'40s, Heywood was forced by failing health to take a three-year hiatus from professional activity beginning in 1947. This fourth installment of his complete works in chronological order presents Heywood's comeback recordings, starting with four unaccompanied solos from 1950 and four 1951 piano studies with unidentified large-band accompaniment. The instrumental arrangements follow the pattern established by Heywood's Commodore ensembles, whereby the piano remains very much in the foreground while the horns serve only to accentuate and lightly embellish. This tidy formula, typified by Heywood's 1944 recording of "Begin the Beguine," sometimes caused frustration among his sidemen. Vic Dickenson was known to express laconic resentment at being made to feel superfluous when Heywood's band performed in public. This, of course, has no bearing whatsoever upon the material heard here. Eight sides recorded for Columbia in August and September of 1951 perfectly illustrate the pianist's whimsy, and with all respect to the bassist and drummer, it probably doesn't matter who they were. Most of the time the whole point of an Eddie Heywood performance was the pianist first and foremost. Eight tracks recorded for MGM in December of 1951 illustrate the point to perfection -- the other musicians remain anonymous while Heywood basks calmly in the limelight. "Stompin' at the Savoy" and "Perdido" are relaxed grooves well worth visiting. Here is lounge piano that's substantial and rewarding. ~ arwulf arwulf

1. Bebe
2. Trees
3. Summertime
4. Piccolino
5. Jealousy
6. You Go To My Head
7. Carioca
8. Liebestraum
9. Without A Song
10. All the Things You Are
11. St. Louis Blues
12. Pretty Girl Is Like A Melody
13. The Birth Of The Blues
14. When Your Lover Has Gone
15. Try a Little Tenderness
16. Mighty Lak' A Rose
17. Cheek To Cheek
18. Memories Of You
19. Chloe
20. Stompin' At The Savoy
21. If Dreams Come True
22. Stormy Weather
23. Perdido
24. It's Easy To Remember

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Bobby Bradford and The Mo'Tet - Live In L.A. (1983)

Cornetist Bobby Bradford has recorded far too infrequently throughout his career. A mellow-toned player with an adventurous style that is usually surprisingly accessible, Bradford is well-featured on this excellent quintet date with altoist James Kousakis, both Roberto Miguel Miranda and Mark Dresser on bass and drummer Sherman Ferguson. Together they perform five of Bradford's originals, music that at its best (particularly on "Sho Nuff Blues" and "Dirty Rag") looks both backwards to earlier styles and extends the innovations of Ornette Coleman. Recommended.

1.- Sho' Nuff Blues
2.- Ornate
3.- Ashes
4.- You Know
5.- Dirty Rag

Bobby Bradford (cornet); James Kousakis (alto sax); Roberto Miguel Miranda (bass); Mark Dresser (bass); Sherman Ferguson (drums).

Recorded on June 7 & 8, 1983 at Music Lab., Los Angeles, CA.

Chucho Valdés - Live At The Village Vanguard

I thought you'd never ask.

If Blue Note's alert microphones were present at Chucho Valdés's historic 1998 debut at the hallowed Village Vanguard, the results haven't officially landed in our CD machines yet. But the mikes were there, alright, the following year -- and they caught some virulent Cuban tempests (as the announcer warns, accurately, "There's a hurricane approaching from the Caribbean"). Yet the heat was turned up so much on Valdés's previous studio albums that the presence of a live audience only increases the temperature slightly here. Once again, Valdés's command of the keyboard is so technically staggering as to be stupefying, and he liberally throws in quotes from just about everything he ever absorbed -- from Chopin and Debussy to the Gershwins, Cecil Taylor and avant-garde strumming of the piano strings. He has so powerful an individual identity that "To Bud Powell" is more about Chucho than the late bop pianist. Yet the best, most fun track on the CD, "Punto Cubano," gives credence to the old saw about less being more. Built mostly around a simple tonic-dominant vamp; it has a Jarrett-like directness of melody and irresistible swing, though Chucho still isn't loath to turn on the big guns when desired. The long-running rhythm section of Francisco Rubio Pampin (bass), Raúl Pineda Roque (drums), and Roberto Vizcaino Guillót (congas), keeps Chucho all stoked up and steaming throughout the set. Also Valdés's sister, Mayra Caridad, lends a husky Miriam Makeba-sized voice to the not-so-peaceful lullaby "Drume Negrita." This is yet another excellent addition to the distinguished line of eventful Village Vanguard live sessions, brought to you through the politically neutral resources of EMI Music Canada. ~ Richard S. Ginell

This beautifully mixed sampling from the Cuban pianist's celebrated 1999 New York engagement with his quartet displays both Valdis' keyboard virtuosity and his mastery of Latin jazz. Each song is a universe, spanning the entire range of human emotions. On the jazzy "Ponle La Clave," Valdis and percussionist Robert Vizcaino Guillst vie gracefully for harmonic control. "Como Traigo La Yuca" stays loyal to the Cuban son, with Valdis mamboing over the keyboard as his right hand evanesces into chromatic doodles. "Punto Cubano" is constructed like a symphony, welding two main themes together with bluesy intermezzos. The standard "My Funny Valentine" is reconfigured as a sweetly poignant danzsn, with Francisco Rubio Pampin playing a lyrical bass. The slinky, Arabic-flavored "Son XXI" ripples so richly that it sounds as if Valdis is playing two pianos at once, while the languorous "Drume Negrita" is sung with enormous soul by Chucho's sister, the throaty alto Mayra Caridad Valdis. ~ Rhythm Magazine

Chucho Valdés (piano)
Roberto Vizcaino Guillot (percussion)
Francisco Rubio Pampin (bass)
Raúl Píñeda Roque (drums)
Mayra Caridad Valdés (vocal)

1. Anabis
2. Son XXI (Para Pia)
3. Punto Cubano
4. My Funny Valentine
5. To Bud Powell
6. Drume Negrita
7. Como Traigo La Yuca
8. Ponle La Clave
9. Encore - Lorraine's Habanera

The Red Heads - 1925-1927 (Chronological 1267)

Vic Berton's kid brother Ralph wrote a book entitled Remembering Bix: it was pretty good as I recall.

What's in a name? Once upon a time there were Red Nichols & His 5 Pennies, Miff Mole's Molers, Red & Miff's Stompers, and the hot little band known simply as the Red Heads. If you shuffle your discographies and average out the personnel, these differently named ensembles could be rendered down more or less into one shape-shifting jazz band with interchangeable players. Aside from four period vocals, the records issued under the banner of the Red Heads are strictly instrumental. The first three sides, dating from 1925, are jacked up with bouncy angular rhythms. "Nervous Charlie" is a club sandwich of syncopated riffs and routines. At one point it even uses the old "Wang Wang Blues" as a chorus. Arthur Fields, who during World War I sang jingo-istic nougats with titles like "Hunting the Hun," is harnessed to the band for a three-minute trot called "Poor Papa." "Plenty Off Center" is performed by Nichols, Arthur Schutt and Vic Berton. Eddie Lang plays exceptionally beautiful guitar on "Trumpet Sobs," and is featured on several other tracks. When Lang was unavailable they chose the impeccable Dick McDonough. "Dynamite" relies on a Charleston lick, while "Alabama Stomp" was composed by James P. Johnson who in fact wrote the original "Charleston," source of the lick in question. This particular "Hurricane" is almost as satisfying as the extended versions recorded for the Edison label two months later by Red & Miff's Stompers. Jimmy Dorsey manages to squeeze a few Plutonic tones out of some hitherto undiscovered register of the alto saxophone during "That's No Bargain." Miff Mole delivers trombone blasts like ball bearings dropped from an attic window. Brad Gowans, known in later years as an accomplished valve trombonist, handles a cornet during "Heebie Jeebies." The straight flush of instrumentals ends with a congenial version of Jelly Roll Morton's "Black Bottom Stomp." Someone named Frank Gould was brought in to wiggle his tonsils in front of the band on January 21, 1927. He sounds a bit glib during "Tell Me Tonight," like a schoolboy on "You Should See My Tootsie" and like an innocent waiting to be massacred on "Here or There." Incredibly, there is no vocalist on "Nothin' Does Does Like It Used To Do Do Do," or during "A Good Man Is Hard to Find." These are delightful performances, with conspicuous hi-hat cymbal work from Vic Berton, who is credited with designing this particular contraption and devising several other aspects of the modern drum kit. If this is true, we must pause for a minute to contemplate the effect that his inventions had upon music in general during the 20th century. Berton also plays a "harpophone," which must have been a rudimentary sort of vibraharp, soon to become the vibraphone. That's what it sounds like. Adrian Rollini would help to introduce the instrument, then Red Norvo and Lionel Hampton would popularize its ringing tones. Berton uses his primitive vibes for accents, like a set of tuned bells. ~ arwulf arwulf

Eddie Lang (guitar)
Pee Wee Russell (clarinet)
Red Nichols (trumpet), Brad Gowans (Cornet)
Wingy Manone (cornet)
Miff Mole (trombone)
Vic Berton (drums)

1. Fallen Arches
2. Nervous Charlie Stomp
3. Headin' For Louisville
4. Poor Papa
5. 'Tain't Cold
6. Hangover
7. Plenty Off Center
8. Trumpet Sobs
9. Wild And Foolish
10. Hi-Diddle-Diddle
11. Dynamite
12. Alabama Stomp
13. Hurricane
14. Brown Sugar
15. Get With
16. Get A Load Of This
17. That's No Bargain
18. Heebie Jeebies
19. Black Bottom Stomp
20. Tell Me Tonight
21. Here Or There
22. You Should See My Tootsie
23. A Good Man Is Hard To Find
24. Nothin' Does Does Like It Used To Do Do Do
25. Baltimore

Art Farmer - Soul Eyes

Blue Note in Fukuoka, Japan, not the NY location. I don't know how many there are of these worldwide but the NY one has a definite tendency towards Hard Rock Cafe syndrome. I'm just glad my name ain't Oka.

Art Farmer had switched to the flumpet (a customized hybrid of the fluegelhorn and the trumpet created especially for him) by the time of this 1991 concert, which was recorded at the Blue Note in Fukuoda, Japan. Accompanied by Geoff Keezer (a talented pianist heard near the very beginning of his professional career), bassist Kenny Davis, and drummer Lewis Nash, Farmer's playing is at its peak, with thoughtful almost compositional solos, as liner note writer Gene Lees infers. After a relaxed opening take of "Time on My Hands," the quartet cuts loose a bit with a brisk flight through "Will You Still be Mine." Mal Waldron's "Soul Eyes" has rarely packed as an emotional punch, while the waltzing "I'm Old Fashioned" is joyful. Art Farmer fans should definitely acquire this highly recommended (but now deleted) CD before it becomes too difficult to find. ~ Ken Dryden

In the early 1960s, trumpeter Art Farmer took up the flugelhorn, attracted by its richer, woodier sound. With the flugelhorn, however, you must sacrifice some of the trumpet's range, sharpness of tone, and volume. So 30 years later, instrument designer David Monette created the flumpet specifically for Farmer, which afforded him the best of both worlds. "Soul Eyes," one of the most enchanting ballads ever written by a jazz musician, was also tailor-made for Farmer's trademark lyricism. This nine-minute track never drags as Farmer caresses the melody backed by Keezer's adroit comping and the sensitive support of Davis and Nash. Farmer's long solo is beautifully sculpted, and with his dreamy phrases and surging lines succeeds in capturing the tune's essence better than most others have. Keezer displays some of the best playing of his then young career in his following solo, his daring, intricate runs and freshly voiced chords making quite an impression, clearly inspired by Farmer's artistry. As Farmer reiterates the theme, you luxuriate in his distinctive sound and his refined grace notes and embellishments. ~ Scott Albin

Art Farmer (flumpet)
Geoff Keezer (piano)
Kenny Davis (bass)
Lewis Nash (drums)

1. Time On My Hands
2. Will You Still Be Mine?
3. Soul Eyes
4. Isfahan
5. I'm Old Fashioned
6. Sad To Say
7. Recorda Me (Remember Me)
8. Straight, No Chaser

Track Of The Day

Bobby Shew - Breakfast Wine (1983) [LP > Flac]

For this obscure effort, trumpeter Bobby Shew and drummer Sherman Ferguson team up with two young talents who were fairly unknown at the time: pianist Makoto Ozone and bassist John Patitucci. In addition to the title cut, Lyle Mays' tasteful "Waltz For Bill Evans" and Ozone's "Shew-In," the quartet performs three standards. Throughout, Shew is heard in top form, and the interplay between his horn and Ozone is quite appealing. It is a pity that this valuable record (as with too many of Bobby Shew's recordings) will be difficult to find. - Scott Yanow

Bobby Shew (trumpet, flugelhorn)
Makoto Ozone (piano)
John Patitucci (bass)
Sherman Ferguson (drums)

  1. Breakfast Wine
  2. Alone Together
  3. Waltz for Bill Evans
  4. Softly, As in a Morning Sunrise
  5. I Waited for You
  6. Shew-In
Recorded in Los Angeles, September 1983

Ernest Ranglin - In Search Of The Lost Riddim

From the time he toured Senegal with Jimmy Cliff in the late '70s, Jamaican guitarist Ernest Ranglin wanted to return and record with local musicians. He finally got his wish in 1997, and the fruit produced by the journey was this collaboration with Senegalese star Baaba Maal. They're joined here by Maal's band, Daande Lenol, which translates as "nomad soul"--a fitting description for an album that is a restless blend of jazz sophistication and African syncopation. Restless is a dirty word when applied to roving husbands or spooked horses, but Ranglin's insatiable desire to explore is a treasure to behold. ~ Keith Moerer

Jamaican jazz guitarist Ernest Ranglin, at 66 years old, is more adventurous than most musicians half his age. Few could travel to Senegal and record with Baaba Maal and his band, Daande Lenol. Fewer still could make such a successful melding of styles. The secret is that Ranglin becomes a part of the band, trading licks with the kora, letting the others speak loudly, then adding his own distinctive voice to the proceedings. This is very definitely an "African" album, highlighted by some wonderful writing (Maal's "Minuit," in particular, is a standout) and marvelous playing. Ranglin is at the top of his form; he doesn't need long solos to make his point. He's taken his music to the roots, and in doing so, has invigorated himself. An unadulterated delight. ~ Chris Nickson

The English bass and drums style gets all mixed up here with reggae and Afro-pop, resulting in a scintillating dance party. If you're looking for stone-solid grooves to keep life on the upswing for many a day, your search has ended. ~ Tim Sheridan

Ernest Ranglin (guitar)
Baaba Maal (guitar, vocal)
Ira Coleman (contrabass)
Mansour Seck (guitar)

1. D'Accord Dakar
2. Up On The Downstroke
3. Minuit
4. Ala Walee
5. Cherie
6. Haayo
7. Anna
8. Nuh True
9. Wouly
10. Pili Pili
11. Midagny

Earl Hines - 1939-1940 (Chronological 567)

This was originally posted here two years ago today. It's been a recurring post at several Russian sites since then also.

At the time of these recordings, Hines was in the process of re-igniting his once potent and inventive big band of the mid-'30s. And while he and his cohorts hadn't completely dropped off the quality scale -- Hines' solos, of course, always remained hot -- the group's material was beginning to dip in caliber. Then came the twin powers of arranger/tenor saxophonist Budd Johnson and singer Billy Eckstine. Picking up from his fine work on Classics' earlier 1937-1939 disc, Johnson delivers standout charts here, like "Number 19" and the novelty number "Tantalizing a Cuban." One of Hines' top arrangers from the past, Jimmy Mundy, also does his part with solid if somewhat slick cuts like "You Can Depend on Me" and "Easy Rhythm." And with Eckstine in the mix, the band finally found a genuine star vocalist. Showing the kind of swarthy tone and incredible facility that would bring him fame over the next three decades, Eckstine lights up the proceedings on classics like "Jelly, Jelly," "I'm Falling for You," and "Ann." Keeping up with the Young Turk, Hines displays his seasoned soloing chops on numbers like "Rosetta," "Body and Soul," and "Child of a Disordered Brain." Check out the mighty Hines band finding its groove again before unwittingly morphing into an incubator for bebop talent.

1. Lightly And Politely
2. Rosetta
3. Boogie Woogie On St. Louis Blues
4. Deep Forest
5. My Heart Beats For You
6. Number 19
7. Body And Soul
8. Child Of A Disordered Brain
9. Wait 'Til It Happens To You
10. Call Me Happy
11. Ann
12. Topsy-Turvy
13. Blue Because Of You
14. You Can Depend On Me
15. Tantalizing A Cuban
16. Easy Rhythm
17. In Swamp Lands
18. I'm Falling For You
19. Everything Depends On You
20. Comin' In Home
21. Jelly, Jelly

BN LP 5009 Thelonious Monk - Genius Of Modern Music, Vol. 2

Thelonious Monk - Genius Of Modern Music, Vol. 2

The tracks here were re-released as part of the 1500 series, then again on CD - so there is a good chance you will either have these already or have heard them - but I can't get enough Monk. His 1947 recordings were the first Blue Notes I ever owned, that's going back a little while.

For specific tracklistings, have a look at the excellent Jazz Discography Project

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Anita O'Day - Volume 5 1944-1945 (2002) [FLAC] {MJCD 193}

Anita O'Day - Volume 5
Aug. 1944-Jan. 1945
Complete Edition

Broadcast ; AFRS "One Night Stand 710",
Tune Town Ballroom, St. Louis, Mo., prob. Aug. 1944
1. Straighten Up And Fly Right

Broadcast ; AFRS "One Night Stand 447", Hollywood Palladium,
Hollywood, 30 Nov. 1944
2. Wish You Were Waitin' For Me

Broadcast ; AFRS "One Night Stand 512", Hollywood Palladium,
Hollywood, 6 Dec. 1944
3. Tabby The Cat
4. In A Little Spanish Town
5. And Her Tears Flowed Like Wine

MacGregor Transcriptions
MacGregor Studios, Hollywood, Ca., Dec. 1944
6. MMO 671 Singing The Blues
7. MMO 671 (sic) Special Delivery
8. MMO 672 Tabby The Cat
9. MMO 673 And Her Tears Flowed Like Wine
10. MMO 674 (I'm Going) Mad For A Pad

Capitol ; MacGregor Studios, Hollywood, Ca., 15 Dec. 1944
11. 525-2 Are You Livin' Old Man?

Film ; "Artistry In Rhythm", Hollywood, Ca., 21 Dec. 1944
12. Tabby The Cat
13. (I'm Going) Mad For A Pad

Capitol ; MacGregor Studios, Ca., 16 Jan. 1945
14. 547-2 I Want A Grown Up Man
15. 548-1 Travelin' Man

Broadcast ; "2nd Esquire All American Concert",
Philharmonic Auditorium, Los Angeles, Ca., 17 Jan. 1945
16. I Can't Believe That You're In Love With Me

Same concert
17. Wish You Were Waiting For Me

ANITA O'DAY with orchestra accompaiment
Capitol ; Hollywood, Ca., 18 Jan. 1945
18. 550 Them There Eyes
19. 551 Memories Of You
20. 552 How Come
21. 553 I Can't Believe That You're In Love With Me

Broadcast ; Chicago, Ill., 27 March 1942
*22. Deep In The Heart Of Texas (unissued)

The Complete Tony Bennett/Bill Evans Recordings

In the mid-1970s, singer Tony Bennett and jazz pianist Bill Evans, two legends in their respective fields, joined together for Bay Area recording sessions that spawned The Tony Bennett/Bill Evans Album in 1975 and its sequel Together Again the following year. Over the years record companies have been known to get in the way of such musical unions due to contractual issues. In this instance, with Evans being committed to Fantasy Records and Bennett founding Improv Records each label garnered its own release, to the benefit of all.

In 2009, Fantasy/Concord has released the two-disc set The Complete Tony Bennett/Bill Evans Recordings. Aside from featuring both albums, there are two bonus tracks from the Together sessions and a number of alternate takes, all of which have either appeared on subsequent album reissues or the boxed set Tony Bennett: The Complete Improv Recordings.

Both men are very expressive in their emotion and phrasing as they present many aspects of love. They could easily have performed solo, as Evans did on “The Bad and the Beautiful,” and still delivered evocative pieces, but together they gel into an impressive duo, driving and inspiring each other. It’s not surprising to read in the liner notes by Will Friedwald, co-author of Bennett’s autobiography, they recorded simultaneously sharing space together in the studio.

Opening with “Young and Foolish” from Plain and Fancy, you hear both men express the regret of a relationship where the participants are aware “We haven't long to be.” Not because the couple’s love has dissipated but because of outside forces, punctuated by both men soaring on the line “the bluebird has to fly.” One of the lovers could have sung “We'll Be Together Again,” assuring “that some day some way” their reunion will happen. Evans’ playing underlies the sadness but doesn’t dwell in it. While parted, “You’re Nearer” is a song for the lovers as the narrator reveals they are still as close as they can be because “I love you so.”

The duo reveals the powerful spell a simple kiss can cast. Bennett calls forth the passion of lovers from “The Touch of Your Lips,” which bring solace and comfort, much like Evans’ melodies. Later, Bennett tries to warn himself on “My Foolish Heart” about the “line between love and fascination/ That's hard to see on an evening such as this” because he knows when “eager lips combine” that thinking will go out the window.

When in love, time appears to standstill though the moments are actually finite. A reminder is offered in “Some Other Time” from On The Town as both men tug at the heartstrings about not being able to say or get “done half the things I want to.” Later, they revisit the musical with “Lucky To Be Me,” about how a man sees his fortunes change “now that I've found you.” Evans creates a warm tone, exemplifying the narrator’s happiness.

Bennett turns the cad on “When in Rome.” He’s a Continental playboy who admits “taking a brief detour with somebody new,” offering the excuse that “when in Rome/ I do as the Romans do” yet Evans’ jaunty accompaniment makes it hard to stay mad.

“Waltz for Debby,” written by Evans and Gene Lees, is a very touching song looking toward that day when Daddy’s little girl will one day grow up and leave more than her toys behind. On the bridge, Evans’ piano sounds like the accompaniment to a spinning ballerina in a young girl’s jewelry box. They also honor sons with “A Child Is Born.”

Love is also filled with longing and loss. “Make Someone Happy” is one of those “wish I had someone” songs but it offers good advice to find happiness. Evans’ piano sounds somber and serious, cognizant of the guy’s loneliness who is being talked to, but then on the bridge his playing foreshadows the joy to be found.

Another Evans original, “The Two Lonely People,” is a heartbreaker featuring a couple sitting beside each other yet very far apart emotionally, the reverse sentiment of “You’re Nearer.” “You Don’t Know What Love Is” until you’ve lost it, echoing Tennyson’s famous quote.
However, they don’t dwell on the heartache long. The narrator casts his hopes “Love will come again” looking toward “Maybe September,” and if not then, “You Must Believe in Spring.” The latter is the longest track of the set and allows Evans the most time to stretch out, which is always a good thing.

Disc One concludes with the bonus tracks. “Who Can I Turn To?” from The Roar Of the Greasepaint - The Smell Of the Crowd, which became a Broadway hit after Bennett first recorded the song. Bennett really gives it a big finish. At the conclusion of “Dream Dancing,” you can hear the men laugh at the joy of their accomplishment, and rightly so.

Disc Two presents alternate takes from the two sessions and runs almost as long as the two albums combined. There are five from the first and 15 from the second. You can hear changes in the alternate takes, some subtle and some pronounced. Would have liked to have known the reasoning behind what they were both looking for or weren’t satisfied with, especially on “You Don’t Know What Love Is,” where they did at least 18 takes.

Much like a brief love affair, The Complete Tony Bennett/Bill Evans Recordings makes you sorry there wasn’t more, but so glad to have gotten what you did. El Bicho

Tony Bennett (vocals)
Bill Evans (piano)

1. Young And Foolish 3:50
2. The Touch Of Your Lips 3:54
3. Some Other Time 5:02
4. When In Rome 2:53
5. We'll Be Together Again 3:16
6. My Foolish Heart 5:23
7. Waltz For Debby 5:14
8. But Beautiful 8:10
9. Days Of Wine And Roses 2:20
10. The Bad And The Beautiful 2:19
11. Lucky To Be Me 3:45
12. Make Someone Happy 3:54
13. You're Nearer 2:23
14. A Child Is Born 3:18
15. The Two Lonely People 4:28
16. You Don't Know What Love Is 3:23
17. Maybe September 3:56
18. Lonely Girl 2:50
19. You Must Believe In Spring 5:51
20. Who Can I Turn To? 2:28
21. Dream Dancing 3:48

1. Young And Foolish (Alternate Take 4) 4:45
2. The Touch Of Your Lips (Alternate Take 1) 2:54
3. Some Other Time (Alternate Take 7) 4:56
4. When In Rome (Alternate Take 11) 2:57
5. Waltz For Debby (Alternate Take 8) 3:50
6. The Bad And The Beautiful (Alternate Take 1) 2:13
7. The Bad And The Beautiful (Alternate Take 2) 2:10
8. Make Someone Happy (Alternate Take 5) 3:54
9. You're Nearer (Alternate Take 9) 2:58
10. A Child Is Born (Alternate Take 2) 3:27
11. A Child Is Born (Alternate Take 7) 3:12
12. The Two Lonely People (Alernate Take 5) 4:44
13. You Don't Know What Love Is (Alternate Take 16) 3:33
14. You Don't Know What Love Is (Alternate Take 18) 3:33
15. Maybe September (Alternate Take 5) 4:38
16. Maybe September (Alternate Take 8) 4:32
17. Lonely Girl (Alternate Take 1) 2:58
18. You Must Believe In Spring (Alternate Take 1) 6:02
19. You Must Believe In Spring (Alternate Take 4) 5:36
20. Who Can I Turn To? (Alternate Take 6) 2:31

Friday, June 26, 2009

There are a couple of these here already; Rab has posted Volume 2, I posted Volume 4. Did I overlook Volume 1, Rab? Is it here? Should I post it?

Anyway, this is my favorite disc of the five issued in this incomplete "Complete Edition". An astounding 14 unissued broadcast recordings!!! See comments section for complete personnel.

Anita O'Day - Volume 3
Complete Edition
Masters Of Jazz MJCD 167

Includes 14 sides never issued *


Columbia New York, 13 July 1942
1. CO 33001-1 Massachusetts
2. CO 33001-2 Massachusetts
3. CO 33002-1 "Murder" He Says
4. CO 33002-4 "Murder" He Says

Cedar Grove, N.J., 1 March 1941
*5. Drum Boogie
*6. Fool Am I

Broadcast Fitch Bandwagon Show, New York, 2 March 1941
*7. Alreet
*8. Drum Boogie

Broadcast Frank Dailey's Meadowbrook,
Cedar Grove, N.J., 15 (or 18) March 1941
*9. Let's Get Away From It All

Broadcast Frank Dailey's Meadowbrook,
Cedar Grove, N.J., March 1941
*10. Genie With The Well Tanned Hide

Broadcast Frank Dailey's Meadowbrook,
Cedar Grove, N.J., 29 March 1941
*11. Just A Little Bit South Of North Carolina

Broadcast Fitch Bandwagon Show, New York City, March 30, 1941
*12. Drum Boogie
*13. Georgia On My Mind
*14. Drum Boogie

Broadcast Spotlight Bands Original Series,
New York City, November 25, 1941,
*15. Let Me Off Uptown
*16. Coppin' A Plea

Broadcast Unknown location, between the end of 1941 and the end
of 1942, poss. Aug. 1942
17. Drum Boogie

Broadcast Frank Dailey's Meadowbrook,
Cedar Grove, N.J., 2 Sep. 1942
*18. Don't Do It, Darling

CBS Broadcast Hollywood Palladium, Los Angeles, 13 Nov. 13, 1942
19. Cow-Cow Boogie

Broadcast "Coca Cola Spotlight Bands" No. 77,
March Field, Ca., 18 Dec. 1942
20. I Lost My Sugar In Salt Lake City

Broadcast "Coca Cola Spotlight Bands" No. 83,
March Field, Ca., 25 Dec. 1942
21. Private Jimmy Johnson
22. Drummin' Man

Broadcast "Fitch Bandwagon Show", Hollywood, June 1943
23. Let Me Off Uptown
*24. Slender, Tender And Tall

Freddy King - All His Hits

Guitarist Freddie King rode to fame in the early '60s with a spate of catchy instrumentals which became instant bandstand fodder for fellow bluesmen and white rock bands alike. Employing a more down-home (thumb and finger picks) approach to the B.B. King single-string style of playing, King enjoyed success on a variety of different record labels. Furthermore, he was one of the first bluesmen to employ a racially integrated group on-stage behind him. Influenced by Eddie Taylor, Jimmy Rogers, and Robert Jr. Lockwood, King went on to influence the likes of Eric Clapton, Mick Taylor, Stevie Ray Vaughan, and Lonnie Mack, among many others.

Freddie King (who was originally billed as "Freddy" early in his career) was born and raised in Gilmer, TX, where he learned how to play guitar as a child; his mother and uncle taught him the instrument. Initially, King played rural acoustic blues, in the vein of Lightin' Hopkins. By the time he was a teenager, he had grown to love the rough, electrified sounds of Chicago blues. In 1950, when he was 16 years old, his family moved to Chicago, where he began frequenting local blues clubs, listening to musicians like Muddy Waters, Jimmy Rogers, Robert Jr. Lockwood, Little Walter, and Eddie Taylor. Soon, the young guitarist formed his own band, the Every Hour Blues Boys, and was performing himself.

In the mid-'50s, King began playing on sessions for Parrott and Chess Records, as well as playing with Earlee Payton's Blues Cats and the Little Sonny Cooper Band. Freddie King didn't cut his own record until 1957, when he recorded "Country Boy" for the small independent label El-Bee. The single failed to gain much attention.

Three years later, King signed with Federal Records, a subsidiary of King Records, and recorded his first single for the label, "You've Got to Love Her With a Feeling," in August of 1960. The single appeared the following month and became a minor hit, scraping the bottom of the pop charts in early 1961. "You've Got to Love Her With Feeling" was followed by "Hide Away," the song that would become Freddie King's signature tune and most influential recording. "Hide Away" was adapted by King and Magic Sam from a Hound Dog Taylor instrumental and named after one of the most popular bars in Chicago. The single was released as the B-side of "I Love the Woman" (his singles featured a vocal A-side and an instrumental B-side) in the fall of 1961 and it became a major hit, reaching number five on the R&B charts and number 29 on the pop charts. Throughout the '60s, "Hide Away" was one of the necessary songs blues and rock & roll bar bands across America and England had to play during their gigs.

King's first album, Freddy King Sings, appeared in 1961, and it was followed later that year by Let's Hide Away and Dance Away With Freddy King: Strictly Instrumental. Throughout 1961, he turned out a series of instrumentals -- including "San-Ho-Zay," "The Stumble," and "I'm Tore Down" -- which became blues classics; everyone from Magic Sam and Stevie Ray Vaughan to Dave Edmunds and Peter Green covered King's material. "Lonesome Whistle Blues," "San-Ho-Zay," and "I'm Tore Down" all became Top Ten R&B hits that year.

Throughout 1976, Freddie King toured America, even though his health was beginning to decline. On December 29, 1976, King died of heart failure. Although his passing was premature -- he was only 42 years old -- Freddie King's influence could still be heard in blues and rock guitarists decades after his death. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine & Cub Koda

1. You've Got to Love Her With A Feeling
2. Have You Ever Loved A Woman
3. Hide Away
4. Lonesome Whistle Blues
5. San-Ho-Zay
6. See See Baby
7. I'm Tore Down
8. Heads Up
9. Christmas Tears
10. Side Tracked
11. What About Love
12. Look Ma, I'm Crying
13. Welfare (Turns Its Back on You)
14. Onion Rings
15. High Rise
16. Some Other Day, Some Other Time
17. Full Time Love

Paul Gonsalves - Gettin' Together

From the archives, this was posted two years ago today.

The most easily available of tenor saxophonist Paul Gonsalves' infrequent sessions as a leader, this CD is a straight reissue of his original Jazzland LP. Three songs (including two ballads) showcase Gonsalves in a quartet with pianist Wynton Kelly, bassist Sam Jones and drummer Jimmy Cobb, while five other pieces add cornetist Nat Adderley (in his prime during the era) to the band. The music is straight-ahead and shows that Gonsalves was quite capable of playing with younger "modernists."

Paul Gonsalves (tenor saxophone)
Nat Adderley (cornet)
Wynton Kelly (piano)
Sam Jones (bass)
Jimmy Cobb (drums)

1. Yesterdays
2. J. And B. Blues
3. I Surrender, Dear
4. Hard Groove
5. Low Gravy
6. I Cover the Waterfront
7. Gettin' Together
8. Walkin'

Recorded in New York, New York on December 20, 1960

Track Of The Day

Fats Navarro - Volume 3 1947 (2000) {MJCD 181}

So this completes the Navarro Masters Of Jazz set. Nothing rare here... Rab has posted the first session, the Dameron sides are everywhere and the Bands For Bonds shows are served best on Philology 17 or the old Spotlite LP. Still, it's nice to have the whole set, so here we are...

See also the link to an entirely unissued (and heavily damaged...) recording of "The Happy Monster" from the WNEW broadcast, courtesy of the great collector "lowgen"! Thanks, friend.


Fats Navarro (tp); Bill Harris (tb); Charlie Ventura, Allen Eager (ts); Ralph Burns (p); Al Valente (g); Chubby Jackson (b); Buddy Rich (d); Art Ford (ann).
WNEW broadcast, WNEW studio,
New York City, 12 April 1947
1. WS 5006/7/8 Sweet Georgia Brown
2. WS 5009/10/11 High On An Open Mike

THE TADD DAMERON QUINTET aka Fats Navarro And His Band
Fats Navarro (tp); Ernie Henry (as); Tadd Dameron (p); Curly Russell (b); Kenny Clarke (d); Kay Penton (voc).
Savoy New York City, 28 Oct. 1947
11. S3465-1 A Bebop Caroll [Mean To Me]
12. S3465-6 A Bebop Caroll [Mean To Me] (master take)
13. S3466-1 The Tadd Walk [Sunday]
14. S3467-3 Gone With The Wind
15. S3468-3 There Must Be You [That Someone Must Be You]

Fats Navarro (tp); Charlie Parker (ts); Allen Eager (ts); John LaPorta (cl); Billy Bauer (g); Lennie Tristano (p); Tommy Potter (b); Buddy Rich (d).
WOR radio broadcast, Mutual Studios, New York City, November 8, 1947
16. 52nd Street Theme (voiceover by MC Bruce Elliott)
17. Donna Lee {Indiana}
18. Fats Flats {What Is This Thing Called Love}
19. Groovin' High {Whispering}
20. Koko {Cherokee} into Anthropology (MC voiceover) {I Got Rhythm}

Fats Navarro - Volume 2 1946-1947 (1999) {MJCD 152}

Here's Volume 2. Featuring Huey Long on electric guitar!

Kenny Dorham, Fats Navarro (tp); Sonny Stitt (as); Morris Lane (ts); Eddie DeVerteuil (bars); Bud Powell (p); Al Hall (b); Kenny Clarke (d); Walter "Gil" Fuller (arr, prob. dir).
Savoy New York City, 6 Sep. 1946
01 - S3346 / S3347 Boppin' A Riff, Pt. I & II
02 - S3348 / S3349 Fat Boy, Pt. 1
03 - S3350 / S3351 Everything's Cool, Pt. 1
04 - S3352 / S3353 Webb City, Pt. 1

Fats Navarro (tp); J.J. Johnson (tb); Porter Kilbert (as); Coleman Hawkins (ts); Milt Jackson (vib on [*] ); Hank Jones (p) Curly Russell (b) Max Roach (d).
Sonora New York City, Nov. or Dec. 1946
05 - S.R. 1857 I Mean You
06 - S.R. 1858-1 Bean And The Boys [*] master take
07 - S.R. 1858-2 Bean And The Boys [*]

Fats Navarro (tp); Eddie "Lockjaw" Davis (ts); Al Haig (p); Huey Long (elg); Gene Ramey (b); Denzil Best (d).
Savoy New York City, 18 Dec. 1946
08 - S3367-A Calling Dr. Jazz
09 - S3368 Fracture
10 - S3369 Hollerin' And Screamin'
11 - S3370-A Stealin' (Stealing) Trash

Fats Navarro (tp); Eddie "Lockjaw" Davis (ts); Al Haig (p); Huey Long (elg); Gene Ramey (b); Denzil Best (d).
Savoy New York City, 20 Dec. 1946
12 - S3371-A Just A Mystery
13 - S3372-A Red Pepper
14 - S3373 Spinal
15 - S3374 Maternity (Lard Pot)

Miles Davis, Maron "Boonie" Hazel, Fats Navarro (aka "Slim Romero"), Joe Newman (tp); Gus Chapell, Ted Kelly, Fred or Eli Robinson, Dickie Wells (tb); Ray Perry, Jimmy Powell (as); Illinois Jacquet, George "Big Nick" Nicholas (ts); Leo Parker (bar); Bill Doggett (p)p; Al Lucas (b); Shadow Wilson (d).
Aladdin New York City, 7 Jan. 1947
16 - NR97-2 Jivin' With Jack The Bellboy

Fats Navarro And His Thin Men
Fats Navarro (tp); Leo Parker (bars, interjections); Tadd Dameron (p, arr); Gene Ramey (b); Denzil Best (d).
Savoy New York City, probably 29 (but possibly 16) Jan. 1947
17 - S3383-2 Fat Girl
18 - S3384-2 Ice Freezes Red
19 - S3385 Eb Pob
20 - S3386 Goin' To Minton's

See comments section for two superb, rare bonus tracks...

Quincy Jones - Gula Matari (1970)

I still get a thrill listening to Quincy's arrangement of Nat Adderley's cornet solo on Hummin'. And where else can you hear a bass section of Ray Brown, Ron Carter, Richard Davis and Major Holley?

With his second and last album under the Creed Taylor aegis, the complexities of Quincy Jones' catholic, evolving tastes start to reveal themselves. We hear signs of his gradual gravitation toward pop right off the bat with the churchy R&B cover of Paul Simon's mega-hit "Bridge Over Troubled Water," dominated by Valerie Simpson's florid soul vocal and a gospel choir. His roots fixation surfaces in the spell-like African groove of the title track, a dramatic tone poem that ebbs and flows masterfully over its 13-minute length. From this point on, it's all jazz; the roaring big band comes back with a vengeance in "Walkin'," where Milt Jackson, Herbie Hancock, Hubert Laws, and other jazzers take fine solo turns, and things really get rocking on Nat Adderley's "Hummin'." Major Holley is a riot with his grumble-scat routine on bass. The whole record sounds like they must have had a ball recording it. - Richard S. Ginell

Quincy Jones (arranger, conductor)
Jerome Richardson, Pepper Adams, Danny Bank (saxophone)
Hubert Laws (flute)
Freddie Hubbard, Danny Moore, Ernie Royal, Marvin Stamm, Snooky Young (trumpet)
Al Grey, Wayne Andre, Benny Powell, Tony Studd (trombone)
Milt Jackson (vibes)
Herbie Hancock, Bob James, Bobby Scott (keyboards)
Eric Gale, Toots Thielemans (guitar)
Ray Brown, Ron Carter, Richard Davis, Major Holley (bass)
Grady Tate (drums)
Don Elliott, Jimmy Johnson, Warren Smith (percussion)
Seymour Barab, Kermit Moore, Lucien Schmit, Alan Shulman (cello)
Valerie Simpson, Marilyn Jackson, Maretha Stewart, Barbara Massey, Hilda Harris (vocals)
  1. Bridge Over Troubled Water
  2. Gula Matari
  3. Walkin'
  4. Hummin'
Recorded March 25, 26; May 12, 1970

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Borah Bergman - A New Frontier (1983)

On the years Bergman has broken down any residual distinction between left -and right- hand functions in piano-playing. On the two large-scale pieces wich make up "A New Frontier" he sets up huge whirling shapes with each hand, which then engage in confrontational dialogue. There is something slightly mechanistic about the playing on "Night Circus" that makes one think of the player-piano pieces of Colon Nancarrow, but this is eliminated on the remarkable "Time For Intensity", a more richly coloured pair of contrating pieces, the second of which, "Webs And Whirlpools", is quite astonishing. (The Penguin Guide To Jazz Recordings, Ninth Edition).

The similarities in style between pianist Borah Bergman and Cecil Taylor cannot be denied. Bergman, like Taylor, assaults, cajoles, and fully explores the instrument; there's nothing mild or polite about the way he rips through chords, develops spiraling, teeming two-handed statements, or barrels through the octaves with each hand making its own furious phrases. This contains two lengthy pieces, each broken into movements. This is intense solo piano that requires just as committed and concentrated an effort from the audience as the performer in order to appreciate and follow the direction. (Rob Wynn).

1.- Night Circus
- Part I : By The Red Moon
- Part II : Trapeze

2.- Time For Intensity
- Swift River
- Webs & Whirlpools

Borah Bergman (piano)

Recorded in New York on January, 1983.

William Parker Quartet - Sound Unity (2005)

Recorded at two live dates in Canada in July and July of 2004, Sound Unity is the most beautifully wrought of William Parker's ensemble recordings. Certainly it doesn't break as much ground as some, and it acknowledges his debts to composers like Ornette Coleman, Don Cherry, and Eric Dolphy, and that's fine; in Parker's able hands as a leader, this band with saxophonist Rob Brown, drummer Hamid Drake (are he and Parker the best rhythm section in jazz or what?), and trumpeter Lewis Barnes understands that both listening and silence are as important as what notes to play. The interaction between the horn players feels like they've been playing together for a very long time -- check out the 18-plus-minute title track. What's also important to note here is the fluidity that the rhythm section engages the horns with, such as on "Wood Flute Song," or the crazy, funky joy on "Hawaii." The bandmembers nearly lift off; they're having so much fun. The music on this set is one of those bridges -- across tradition, subgenre, nuance, and harmony. Parker's lyricism is profound, and has never been heard quite like this before. Brown is a more subtle player than some Parker has worked with before, and Barnes is a natural singer on the trumpet. The gap that's provided in the absence of a piano allows for a less strident interaction harmonically and dialogically. The music here flows, reaches, steps back, and reaches further, with Parker's guidance allowing for the horns to push one another as they do on "Groove," not so much for what they know, but for what they bring to a tune emotionally. "Harlem"'s folk song melody and lyric are among the most beautiful Parker has yet written; it's a place where blues and the Middle Eastern musics of Morocco come together. This is a stellar offering from one of the music's greatest lights. (Tom Jurek)

1. Hawaii
2. Wood Flute Song
3. Poem for June Jordan
4. Sound Unity
5. Harlem
6. Groove

William Parker (bass); Rob Brown (alto sax); Lewis Barnes (trumpet); Hamid Drake (drums).

Recorded live to multi-track at Vancouver International Jazz Festival and Suoni Per Il Popolo (Montreal) in the Summer of 2004.

Tony Bennett - Get Happy with the London Philharmonic Orchestra (1971)

Tony Bennett appeared in this televised 1971 concert at the Royal Albert Hall in London, accompanied by the London Philharmonic Orchestra under the direction of famed arranger-composer Robert Farnon. Bennett would return to London later that same year to collaborate with Farnon on their WITH LOVE album.

The song selection covers the typical Bennett concert program at the time, hitting all his major hits of the 60’s including “For Once In My Life”, "Love Story", "If I Ruled The World", "What The World Needs Now", and obviously, “I Left My Heart In San Francisco”. The concert also features a Farnon-penned tune entitled “Country Girl”, which the singer had originally recorded in 1966 for the TONY MAKES IT HAPPEN! album.

This is one of only three live albums that Tony Bennett ever made (the others, his 1962 Carnegie Hall recording and his 1994 MTV UNPLUGGED CD) and it is quite electric, the British audience responding to Bennett’s commanding stage presence and charisma.

This is my own LP rip from a vintage but clean copy of the original 33RPM vinyl. I have minimized clicks/pops (except for one or two which I could not easily remove) and, as there are no breaks between tracks due to applause, I have presented this post as two complete LP sides (one FLAC file for each side). Also included are CUE files (for those that wish to separate the tracks) and full scans of the gatefold LP covers/backs + the LP labels as well. I hope you enjoy this wonderful and long out-of-print concert which has NEVER been issued in digital form. Scoredaddy

Tony Bennett (vocals)
Robert Farnon (conductor)
John Bunch (piano)
London Philharmonic Orchestra

Side A
I (Introduction) Left My Heart in San Francisco (instrumental)
2 I Want to Be Happy
3 If I Ruled the World
4 Get Happy
5 Tea for Two
6 Let There Be Love
7 (Where Do I Begin) Love Story
8 Trolley Song
9 Medley: I Left My Heart in San Francisco/I Wanna Be Around
10 Old Devil Moon

Side B
1 Country Girl
2 There Will Never Be Another You
3 Wave
4 On The Sunny Side of the street
5 For Once In My Life
6 What The World Needs Now
7 I’ll Begin Again
8 (Closing) I Left My Heart In San Francisco (instrumental)

Recorded at Royal Albert Hall, London, UK on January 31, 1971

Fats Navarro - Volume 1 1943-1946 (1998) {MJCD 143}

Well, here you go - here's the first in Media 7's series on Fats Navarro.

Prob.: Cliff Haughton, Harry "Big Jim" Lawson, Howard McGhee, Ted "Fats" Navarro, Art Capehart (tp); Taswell "Little Joe" Baird, Wayman Richardson, Bob Murray (tb); Ben Smith, Reuben Philips (as); Jimmy Forrest, J.D. King (ts); Eddie Loving (ts, bar); Johnny Young (p); Booker Collins (b); Ben Thigpen (d); Andy Kirk (dir).
Prob. AFRS Jubilee No. 5
New York City, prob. Nov. 1943
1. Wednesday Night Hop
2. Seven Come Eleven

Same except Cliff Haughton out and June Richmond (voc) added.
Decca 3 Dec., 1943
3. 71536 Fare Thee Well, Honey

Prob.: Cliff Haughton, Harry "Big Jim" Lawson, Howard McGhee, Fats Navarro, Art Capehart (tp); Taswell "Little Joe" Baird, Wayman Richardson, Bob Murray (tb); Ben Smith, Reuben Philips (as); Jimmy Forrest, J.D. King (ts); Eddie Loving (ts, bar); Johnny Young (p); Booker Collins (b); Ben Thigpen (d); Andy Kirk (dir).
AFRS Jubilee No. 66 Los Angeles: c Feb, 1944
4. Speak Low
5. One O'Clock Jump

Same personnel.
AFRS Jubilee No. 67 Los Angeles, c Feb, 1944
6. Peeping Through The Keyhole

Prob. Billy Eckstine (voc, dir); Gale Brockman, Marion "Boonie" Hazel, Maurice "Shorty" McConell, Fats Navarro (tp); Alfred "Chippy" Outcalt, Howard "Scotty" Scott, Jerry Valentine, Taswell "Little Joe" Baird (tb); John Jackson, Bill Frazier (as); Gene Ammons, Budd Johnson (ts); Leo Parker (bar); John Malachi (p); Connie Wainwright (g); Tommy Potter (b); Art Blakey (d).
AFRS Jubilee No. 119 Club Plantation, Los Angeles, late Jan. 1945
7. Blowing The Blues Away

Same, except Eckstine (dir only).
AFRS Jubilee No. 121 Los Angeles, Feb. 1945
8. Air Mail Special

Same, except Eckstine (tp, dir).
AFRS Jubilee No. 122 Los Angeles, Feb. 1945
9. Opus X
10. Love Me Or Leave Me

Prob. Billy Eckstine (vtb, voc, dir); Raymond Orr, Marion "Boonie" Hazel, Maurice "Shorty" McConell, Fats Navarro (tp); Walter Knox, Alfred "Chippy" Outcalt, Howard "Scotty" Scott, Jerry Valentine (tb); Budd Johnson, John Cobbs (as); Gene Ammons, Arthur Sammons or Simmons (ts);
National New York City, October, 1945
11. NSC 72 Long Long Journey (1st take)
*12. NSC 72 Long Long Journey (2nd take)

Harry "Big Jim" Lawson, Claude Dunson, Johnny Lynch, Fats Navarro (tp); Milton Robinson, Henry Wells, Wayman Richardson, Bob Murray (tb); Reuben Philips, Joe Evans (as); Jimmy Forrest, Eddie "Lockjaw" Davis or Candy Johnson (ts); John Porter (bs); Hank Jones (p); Floyd "Wonderful" Smith (elg); Al Hall (b); Ben Thigpen (d); Bea Booze (voc); Andy Kirk (dir).
Decca New York City, 3 Jan. 1946
13. 73267 Doggin' Man Blues

Billy Eckstine (voc, dir); prob. Raymond Orr, Marion "Boonie" Hazel, prob. Maurice "Shorty" McConell, Fats Navarro (tp); Alfred "Chippy" Outcalt, Howard "Scotty" Scott or Robert Scott [aka Abdul Hamid], Jerry Valentine (tb); Norris Turney. Robert "Junior" Williams (as); Gene Ammons, prob. Josh Jackson (ts); Leo Parker (bar); prob. Jimmy Golden (p); Connie Wainwright (g); Bill McMahon (b); Art Blakey (d).
National New York City, 31 Jan. or Feb. 1946
14. NSC 117 Tell Me Pretty Baby

Fats Navarro, Kenny Dorham (tp); Sonny Stitt (as); Ray Abrams (ts); Eddie de Verteuill (bs); John Collins (g); Bud Powell (p); Al Hall (b); Kenny Clarke (d); Walter "Gil" Fuller (arr).
Swing New York City, 5 Sep. 1946
15. D6 VB 2792-1 Epistrophy
16. D6 VB 27932-1 52nd Street Theme
17. D6 VB 2794-1 Oop-Bop-Sh'Bam
18. D6 VB 2795-1 Rue Chaptal (a.k.a. Royal Roost) {Blues}

Art Blakey - Buttercorn Lady

Few jazz followers would think of trumpeter Chuck Mangione and pianist Keith Jarrett as former members of Art Blakey's Jazz Messengers, but in 1966, they both worked in the drummer's classic hard bop unit and the stint gave them needed exposure and helped the pair to develop their own individual voices. With tenor saxophonist Frank Mitchell and bassist Reggie Workman completing the quintet, this particular version of The Jazz Messengers only had the opportunity to record this one excellent live LP (which is currently out of print) but proved to be a worthy successor to their more acclaimed predecessors. ~ Scott Yanow

On this hard-to-find live recording from the Lighthouse in Hermosa Beach, Art Blakey features the two young talents who had just joined his band: 20-year-old pianist Keith Jarrett and 25-year-old trumpeter Chuck Mangione. Neither would stay for long, and both would soon be selling more records than Blakey himself. But their stint with the Jazz Messengers left behind this outstanding LP, which is definitely worth a listen. Mangione takes leadoff solo on this standard, and contributes what would be a memorable solo . . . if Keith Jarrett weren't taking the next chorus. Jarrett dishes out a perfect solo, with tasty ideas, angelic phrases and a very sweet touch. Jarrett wouldn't go anywhere near a Richard Rodgers standard for almost another two decades, but the newcomer showed here that he could play the old songs with great passion. On the basis of this tantalizing performance, one must conclude that the shortest-lasting group of Jazz Messengers -- it never made another record -- was also one of the finest. ~ Ted Gioia

Art Blakey (drums)
Chuck Mangione (trumpet)
Keith Jarrett (piano)
Frank Mitchell (tenor sax)
Reggie Johnson (bass)

1. Buttercorn Lady
2. Recuerdo
3. The Theme
4. Between Races
5. My Romance
6. Secret Love

Recorded January, 1966 at The Lighthouse, Hermosa Beach, California

Johnny 'Guitar' Watson - Ain't That A Bitch

I got this when in came out - on vinyl - and wore it out. But I was surprised to note that Paul Dunmall is featured here. Actually, it more a function of me learning who Paul Dunmall is in the intervening years. 'We're No Exception' is a fine little tune.

Coming out of Houston's fertile blues scene with Albert Collins and Johnny Copeland, Johnny "Guitar" Watson trod the same route to fame that his peers did in the latter half of the '50s and for most of the '60s. Unlike Collins and Copeland, though, Watson found his biggest success as a funkster in the '70s. And lest one thinks of an aging blues legend embarrassing himself aping the innovations of George Clinton and Sly Stone, Watson found a singular groove by slicking up his already urbane blues style with lots of tasty horn arrangements, plenty of fat basslines, and wah-wah-issue guitar licks. The latter element, of course, was to be expected from a virtuoso such as Watson. And whether reeling off one of his subtle solos or blending in with the band, the reborn blues star was never less than compelling. Ain't That a Bitch, from 1976, heralded Watson's new funk era with plenty of guitar treats and one of the best batch of songs he ever cooked up. The variety here is stunning, ranging from the calypso-based blues swinger "I Need It" to the quiet storm soul ballad "Since I Met You Baby." In between, Watson goes widescreen with the comic book funk of "Superman Lover" and eases into an after-hours mood on the organ-driven jazz and blues gem "I Want to Ta-Ta You Baby." Besides the fine Watson roundups on the Rhino and Charly labels, Ain't That a Bitch works beautifully as a first-disc choice for newcomers, especially those who want to hear the '70s funk material. ~ Stephen Cook

Johnny "Guitar" Watson (guitar, bass, keyboards, vocal)
Paul Dunmall (sax)
Peter Martin (trumpet)
Tommy Roberson (trombone)
Emery Thomas (drums)

1. I Need It
2. I Want To Ta-Ta You Baby
3. Superman Lover
4. Ain't That A Bitch
5. Since I Met You Baby
6. We're No Exception
7. Won't You Forgive Me Baby

Shuggie Otis reviewed by Jean Lafite

Reviewed by Jean Lafite

so i got a chance to listen to shuggie last night and i was extremely impressed. i am not completely unfamiliar with the man as i have a couple of johnny otis records and he plays on one of my favorite albums by sugarcane harris another johnny otis alumni who also worked with zappa and i think beefheart also among others (links to this lp included for whoever might be interested, i think i posted it once before). the first one i listened to 1974's "Inspiration Information" is entirely true to it's time. right from the jump i wanted some Quaaludes, wine, and herb to get right but as the lp progressed i didn't need them so much because the music did it all for me; i would've took them if available though. this record is undeniably at the top of its class, as james taylor said: "a steamroller, a churnin' urn of burnin' funk" or as i am saying : a sweaty pile of smoked grooves. taylor said it better but watch out for me on ebay because i will be lying in the weeds pouncing on shuggie otis lp's until i have them all.

the second "sessions" compilation is no doubt fine as well, full of the "blue" soul with risque lyrics by johnny otis and others, some more well known to me and some a surprise. i did not know that charles brown did this type of material, for instance. some jumping fun to be had here but gimmicky, comical stuff that didn't and doesn't stand up with the 1974 record under shuggie's name.

lafite says get them both, but for sure don't miss Inspiration Information. shuggie might have a thing or two to learn about filling interval cracks, but the man can flat play and this is first rate funk. ~ jean lafite

Shuggie Otis - Inspiration Information

Shuggie Otis (guitar, piano, organ, bass, drums)
George Duke (organ, electric piano, celeste)
Richard Aplanalp (tenor sax, oboe)
Johnny Otis (percussion, vocal)
Wilton Felder (bass)
Aynsley Dunbar (drums)

1. Inspiration Information
2. Island Letter
3. Sparkle City
4. Aht Uh Mi Hed
5. Happy House
6. Rainy Day
7. XL-30
8. Pling!
9. Not Available
10. Strawberry Letter 23
11. Sweet Thang
12. Ice Cold Daydream
13. Freedom Flight

Shuggie Otis - In Session: Great Rhythm & Blues

Shuggie Otis (guitar, piano, bass)
Amos Milburn (piano, vocals)
Johnny Otis (piano, drums, vocals)
Louis Jordan (alto sax, vocals)
Pee Wee Crayton (guitar)

1. Doin' It
2. Trackin' Machine
3. Louie, Louie
4. Willie And The Hand Jive
5. Country Girl
6. Bad Luck Shadow
7. Shake, Rattle And Roll
8. TV Mama
9. Big Legged Woman
10. Driftin' Blues
11. Choo Choo Ch' Boogies
12. I Got The Walkin' Blues
13. The Honeydripper (Part 1)
14. Boom-Chick-A-Boogie
15. Chicken Shack Boogie
16. One Scotch, One Bourbon, One Beer
17. Did You Ever Love A Woman?
18. I'm The Midnight Creeper
19. Sugar
20. Texas Hop
21. Blues After Hours
22. I Got A Big Fat Mama
23. Information Blues

Gerald Wilson Orchestra - Monterey Moods (2007)

A decade ago, when he was commissioned to write music to commemorate the fortieth anniversary of the Monterey Jazz Festival, Gerald Wilson produced the memorable, double Grammy Award-nominated Theme for Monterey (MAMA Records,1998). Now the 89-year-old dean of American Jazz composers has scored another triumph, saluting the festival’s golden anniversary with a picturesque seven-part suite, Monterey Moods, that musically epitomizes the scope and character of that annual event.

The motif is deceptively simple: a three-note idea used in various ways as the bedrock of each movement (Allegro/Jazz Swing Waltz/Ballad/Latin Swing/Blues/Bass Solo/Hard Swing), much as a single melodic phrase was deftly rearranged to underscore each section of Theme for Monterey. Wilson’s orchestra introduced Moods at the Monterey Festival and recorded it in a studio for Mack Avenue Records. The album’s playing time has been increased to nearly an hour by appending Wilson’s atmospheric arrangement of Cole Porter’s Concentrate on You (featuring son Anthony Wilson’s mellow guitar) and his gregarious Mini Waltz (solos courtesy of trumpeter Jimmy Owens, baritone saxophonist Ronnie Cuber and special guest Hubert Laws on flute).

The suite is almost entirely upbeat; even the slower-paced Ballad simmers in a Basie-like groove behind heated solos by Laws and tenor saxophonist Kamasi Washington. The remaining movements personify their names, using Wilson’s spare entracte as a springboard for a series of bright and swinging vignettes marked by powerful rhythms and persuasive solos. The rhythmic muscle is supplied by Anthony Wilson, pianist Renee Rosnes, bassist Peter Washington and drummer par excellence, Lewis Nash. The improvisations for the most part are by Laws, Cuber, Owens, Wilson, trumpeters Terell Stafford and Sean Jones, saxophonists Kamasi Washington, Ron Blake, Antonio Hart and Steve Wilson. Peter Washington is also showcased on the suitably named Bass Solo.

Writing a suite like Monterey Moods would be a daunting task at any age, let alone for someone on the doorstep of his ninetieth birthday. But Wilson has risen to the challenge, composing another in a series of masterful compositions whose evolution began nearly seventy years ago. In the liner notes, Wilson says he’s looking forward to the sixtieth celebration at Monterey. So are we. Jack Bowers

Gerald Wilson Orchestra
Anthony Wilson (guitar); Antonio Hart, Steve Wilson (alto saxophone); Ron Blake, Kamasi Washington (tenor saxophone); Ronnie Cuber (baritone saxophone); Jimmy Owens, Jon Faddis, Sean Jones, Terell Stafford, Frank Greene (flugelhorn); Dennis Wilson, Jay Ashby, Luis Bonilla, Douglas Purviance (trombone); Renee Rosnes (piano); Todd Coolman, Peter Washington (bass guitar); Lewis Nash (drums); Gerald Wilson (leader, arranger)

1. Allegro - (Monterey Moods Suite, with Hubert Laws)
2. Jazz Swing Waltz - (Monterey Moods Suite, with Hubert Laws)
3. Ballad - (Monterey Moods Suite, with Hubert Laws)
4. Latin Swing - (Monterey Moods Suite)
5. Blues - (Monterey Moods Suite)
6. Bass Solo - (Monterey Moods Suite)
7. Hard Swing - (Monterey Moods Suite)
8. I Concentrate on You
9. Mini Waltz, The - (with Hubert Laws)

Recorded at Legacy Recording, Studio A, NYC

Various Artists - Tribute to Duke (1977)

This short, nine-track tribute to the legendary Duke Ellington packsmore swing into its 36-minute length than you'd expect. The disc features guest performances from Bing Crosby, Rosemary Clooney, TonyBennett, and Woody Herman, with some great backing musicians,including Nat Pierce (piano), Scott Hamilton (tenor sax), Bill Berry(trumpet), Monty Budwig (bass), and Jack Hanna (drums).

The instrumental "Main Stem" is a rollicking number that sadly fades outafter five minutes. Crosby's "Don't Get Around Much Anymore" featuress ome of his more adventurous vocalizations. Herman's "In a SentimentalMood" is one of the most expressive versions, and is a standout. Clooney's "I'm Checking Out -- Go'om Bye" catches her at the top ofher game, while Bennett's takes on "I'm Just a Lucky So and So" and"Prelude to a Kiss" are both classic crooner performances.

A Tribute to Duke plays like a wonderful appetizer, readying your palette formore music. The only weakness of this disc is that it is too short. ~JT Griffith

Bing Crosby, Tony Bennett, Rosemary Clooney (vocals)
Woody Herman (clarinet #3)
Scott Hamilton (tenor saxophone)
Bill Berry (trumpet)
Nat Pierce (piano)
Monty Budwig (bass)
Jake Hanna (drums)

1. Don't Get Around Much Anymore - Bing Crosby
2. Main Stem
3. In a Sentimental Mood - Woody Herman
4. I'm Checking Out--Goom Bye - Rosemary Clooney
5. Prelude to a Kiss - Tony Bennett
6. It Don't Mean a Thing If It Ain't Got That Swing
7. I'm Just a Lucky So and So - Tony Bennett
8. What Am I Here For?
9. Sophisticated Lady - Rosemary Clooney

Recorded at Sunwest Recording Studios, Hollywood, California in 1977

Great Guitars - At The Winery (1980)

This exciting live session is pretty definitive of the Great Guitars. With fine support offered by bassist Joe Byrd and drummer Jimmie Smith, guitarists Charlie Byrd, Barney Kessel and Herb Ellis romp on such swinging numbers as Broadway," "Air Mail Special" and "Straighten Up and Fly Right."

As usual, Byrd, with his grounding in classical guitar, is the most distinctive, while Kessel and Ellis constantly pay tribute to Charlie Christian. This combination worked quite well, and each of the Great Guitars' five recordings are easily recommended to fans of bop guitar. Scott Yanow

Charlie Byrd (guitar)
Barney Kessel (guitar)
Herb Ellis (guitar)
Joe Byrd (bass)
Jimmie Smith (drums)

1. Broadway
2. Air Mail Special
3. Body and Soul
4. You Took Advantage of Me
5. So Danço Samba
6. Sheik of Araby
7. Straighten up and Fly Right
8. Just in Time
9. Talk of the Town

Recorded live at the Paul Masson Mountain Winery, Saratoga, California in July, 1980

Lennie Tristano - The Complete Keynote

From the archives; this has been here since a year ago today.

The earliest of these 19 sides, dating from 1946, capture Lennie Tristano at age 27, newly arrived in New York and beginning to carve a place for himself in the embryonic bebop scene. Playing with Billy Bauer on guitar and bassist Clyde Lombardi, Tristano shows off a mix of youthful verse and pianistic elegance, coupled with effortless, seamless invention, matched by Bauer's crisp, economical, yet quietly flamboyant guitar. Other, later sides included here, from the following year, capture Tristano and company moving into more dissonant and experimental territory, challenging the listeners without ever losing them as he ranges across unexpected tonalities. It's all glorious listening, and don't be put off by the multiple takes of all but three compositions here because no two are alike enough to make it seem like you've been there before. ~ Bruce Eder

Lennie Tristano (piano)
Billy Bauer (guitar)
Bob Leininger (bass)
Clyde Lombardi (bass)

1. Out on a Limb (take 1)
2. Out on a Limb (take 2)
3. Out on a Limb (take 3)
4. I Can't Get Started (take 1)
5. I Can't Get Started (take 2)
6. I Surrender, Dear (take 1)
7. I Surrender, Dear (take 2)
8. I Surrender, Dear (take 3)
9. Untitled Blues
10. Interlude (take 1)
11. Interlude (take 2)
12. Interlude (take 3)
13. Interlude (take 4)
14. Interlude (take 5)
15. Interlude (take 6)
15. Blue Boy (take 1)
16. Atonement (take 1)
17. Coolin' off With Ulanov (take 1)
18. Coolin' off With Ulanov (take 2)

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Track Of The Day

Seegs brings us ...The Best Pianists You Never Heard… Maybe: Part 6 – Luca Flores

The Best Pianists You Never Heard…Maybe: Part 6 – Luca Flores

Love for Sale

Sounds and Shades of Sound

For Those I Never Knew

If you’ve read Ford Maddox Ford’s The Good Soldier the opening sentence will be etched in your mind: “This is the saddest story I have ever heard.” Thus begins one of the greatest novels ever written –and for me that line is now irrevocably tinted by the story of Luca Flores. “It's criminal that Luca Flores is not appreciated in death; it was even more criminal that he was not properly acknowledged for his true contribution to the piano book's language while he was walking and playing among us.” (Thom Jurek)

An Italian pianist of prodigious talent, Flores played with Massimo Urbani, backed Tiziana Ghiglioni, and led his own dates, producing a spectacular but short series of recordings. After finishing his solo masterpiece, “For Those I Never Knew,” Luca Flores took his own life. He was 39 years old.

In retrospect, the title of the final CD resonates prophetically and with almost unbearable pathos. On that final session, Flores chose to play “But not for Me” and “Look for the Silver Lining,” which he apparently was unable to find for himself.

Evan a hurried listening will reveal his special genius. “Pianist Luca Flores represents the best in lyrical Italian creative jazz. His knowledge of and respect for the jazz piano tradition is comprehensive to say the least, his dexterity on the keys is second to none, and his innate abilities as a composer to meld different parts of the jazz tradition and Italian folk song is paramount, ” says Jurek.

The 3 CDs presented here represent the main body of his work as a leader and soloist.

Love for Sale

1. Love for Sale
2. Waltz for a Sad Day
3. In a Sentimental Mood
4. Toy Town
5. Angelo
6. It A Uno
7. Waltz for a Sad Day 2
8. Ask Me Now
9. Sophia
10. Your Blues

Luca Flores piano, keyboards
David Murray tenor sax
Riccardo Bianchi guitar
Giulio Capiozzo drums
Barbara Casini vocal
Riccardo del Fra bass
Fabio Morgera trumpet
Nicola Stilo flute
and others

“Essentially, there is much to get excited about here as Flores' astute musical visions in conjunction with a hearty mix of originals, standards, and inventive soloing equates to a radiant outing, further enhanced by an observable touch of class.” (Glenn Astarita, AMG)

Sounds and Shades of Sounds

1. Averti tra le Mie Braccia
2. Angela
3. Ode to the Ocean
4. Feux Rouges
5. Darn the Dream
6. Softly as in a Morning Sunrise
7. Dice Dance

Luca Flores piano
Lello Pareti bass
Piero Borri drums

“This trio date with bassist Lello Paretti and drummer Piero Borri is remarkable for its diversity. Of the seven selections here, three are by Flores, two by Luca Tenco, and two are standards (Jimmy Van Heusen's "Darn That Dream" and the Romberg-Hammerstein gem "Softly as in a Morning Sunrise"). While the standards are first-rate for the interplay between Paretti and Flores and for Flores' deeply lyrical solos, it is Tenco's "Averti Tra le Mie Braccia" and Flores' own "Dice Dance" that are most interesting.” (Thom Jurek)

For Those I Never Knew

Luca Flores piano

1. How Far Can You Fly
2. Max 2 Supersoul
3. My Ideal
4. Leaving
5. Musengu (Where Extremes Meet)
6. Coincidenze
7. Kaleidoscopic Stars (Tyner’s Mirror)
8. But not for Me
9. Look for the Silver Lining
10. Cartone Animato
11. For Those I Never Knew (Patience)

“This is one of the most intimate, groundbreaking, and heartbreakingly beautiful solo piano recordings in the jazz canon. Period.” (Thom Jurek)

Art Pepper and Conte Candoli - Mucho Calor

It's a little obscure this date: despite the studio session reference below, the very scant liner notes say that this was recorded at the Forum Theater in Los Angeles in 1958. Anyone have any insights?

This recording brings back an obscure session from the long defunct Andex label that was probably recorded around 1956. The emphasis is on Latin jazz with altoist Art Pepper, trumpeter Conte Candoli, tenor saxophonist Bill Perkins, pianist Russ Freeman, bassist Ben Tucker, and drummer Chuck Flores interacting with the percussion of Jack Costanza and Mike Pacheko. With arrangements by Bill Holman, Johnny Mandel, Benny Carter, and Pepper, the music is quite jazz-oriented if a touch lightweight. Worth investigating by fans of the idiom. ~ Scott Yanow

This CD release contains Art Pepper and Conte Candoli’s complete octet album "Mucho Calor" (1957). The album marked their first collaboration together as co-leaders. They had never previously fronted a band with less than four horns until this outstanding studio session.

Art Pepper (alto sax)
Conte Candoli (trumpet)
Bill Perkins (tenor)
Russ Freeman (piano)
Ben Tucker (bass)
Mike Pacheco (bongos)
Jack Costanza (bongos)
Chuck Flores (drums)

1. Mucho Calor
2. Autumn Leaves
3. Mambo De La Pinta
4. I'll Remember April
5. Vaya Hombre Vaya
6. I Love You
7. Mambo Jumbo
8. Old Devil Moon
9. Pernod
10. That Old Black Magic

Recorded at the Forum Theater, April 24, 1958

Dave McKenna - Dancing in the Dark (1985)

One of a number of solo piano sessions that Dave McKenna did for Concord Records - and they're all good.

The great swing pianist Dave McKenna performs 11 selections written by Arthur Schwartz, one of the lesser-known (but very talented) songwriters of the golden age of American popular music. Among the pieces that McKenna joyfully revives are "By Myself," "A Shine on Your Shoes," "I Guess I'll Have to Change My Plan," and "Dancing in the Dark." Bright, melodic treatments of classic music. - Scott Yanow

Dave McKenna (solo piano)

  1. By Myself
  2. A Shine on Your Shoes
  3. I See Your Face Before Me
  4. Alone Together
  5. I Guess I'll Have to Change My Plan
  6. You and the Night and the Music
  7. Dancing in the Dark
  8. Something to Remember You By
  9. New Sun in the Sky
  10. Oh, But I Do
  11. A Gal in Calico
Recorded in San Francisco, August 1985

Louie Bellson - Inferno!: 150 MPH (1974) & Dynamite! (1979)

Although the two albums combined on this reissue were recorded five years apart (150 MPH, though not released until 1979, was cut in sessions on May 25 and July 29, 1974, while Dynamite was recorded live at the Concord Jazz Festival in August 1979 and first issued in 1980), they have a lot in common. Both are big band dates, and some of the same personnel appear on both: trumpeter Bobby Shew; trombonists Nick DiMaio (the co-producer of 150 MPH), Dana Hughes, and Bob Payne; saxophonists Dick Spencer and Don Menza (who wrote six selections, four on 150 MPH and two on Dynamite); and percussionist/vibes player Jack Arnold. Beyond that, the musical approach is much the same on both albums. Drummer/leader Louie Bellson filled both with originals, most of them written either by himself or Menza, although there is a cover of Rodgers & Hammerstein's "Hello Young Lovers" from The King and I on 150 MPH and then-teenaged saxophonist Matt Catingub contributed the closing track, "Explosion," to Dynamite. Bellson and Menza's tunes are busy swing numbers with plenty of room for soloing by the horn players, particularly Shew and (on 150 MPH) tenor saxophonist Pete Christlieb. Of course, the leader gets his say, too, particularly on the barnburners that close each album, "Inferno" and "Explosion." The result is a collection that demonstrates the continuing possibilities of the big band format 30 years after its commercial heyday. - William Ruhlmann

150 MPH

Bobby Shew, Conte Candoli, Blue Mitchell, Harry Edison, Frank Szabo, Stu Blumberg (trumpet)
Frank Rosolino, Charlie Loper, Gil Falco, Dana Hughes, Nick DiMaio, Mayo Taina, Bob Payne (trombone)
Dick Spencer, Larry Covelli, Don Menza, Pete Christlieb, Bill Byrne (reeds)
Nat Pierce, Ross Tompkins (piano)
Tim May, Mundell Lowe (guitar)
Gene Cherico (bass)
Louie Bellson (drums)
Jack Arnold, Joe Porcaro (percussion)
  1. Louie Rides Again
  2. Spanish Gypsy
  3. Back Home
  4. Spacin' Home
  5. Time Check
  6. Hello Young Lovers
  7. Love Dreams
  8. Inferno
Recorded May 25 & July 29, 1974


Bobby Shew, Nelson Hatt, Walt Johnson, Ron King, John Thomas (trumpet)
Alan Kaplan, Nick DiMaio, Dana Hughes, Bob Payne (trombone)
Dick Spencer, Matt Catingub, Don Menza, Gordon Goodwin, Andy Mackintosh (reeds)
Frank Collett (piano)
John Chiodini (guitar)
John Williams, Jr. (bass)
Louie Bellson (drums)
Jack Arnold (percussion)
  1. Sambandrea Swing
  2. Deliverance
  3. Concord Blues for Blue
  4. Cinderella's Waltz
  5. Where Did You Go?
  6. Explosion
Recorded at the Concord Jazz Festival, August 1979

Richard M. Jones - 1927-1944 (Chronological 853)

Review by Morris.

Not many people are familiar with Richard M. Jones anymore. Never considered a trailblazing jazz musician during his lifetime (1892 - 1945), Jones is known much more for his songwriting and producing acumen than as a jazz piano player. His song Trouble in Mind is a classic jazz/blues staple and has been recorded by countless artists. (My favorite version is by Bob Wills and his Texas Playboys.) Black Rider is another Jones composition that is fairly well known as well. (Also capably done by Wills.) Still, when looking at Jones' career achievements, how could anything top being responsible for putting together the "pick-up band" that was Louis Armstrong and his Hot Fives. As I have read it, Jones was the talent scout/producer for Okeh's "race" series when Okeh signed Armstrong to record for the label. In deciding what to do with Armstrong's first session as a leader, it was Jones that decided to round-up a bunch of New Orleans musicians that had migrated to Chicago. It just so happened that Kid Ory, Johnny Dodds and Johnny St. Cyr were free and the rest is history.

Still, Jones was a capable pianist and led some good early jazz sessions from 1923 through 1944. This particular Chronos documents the years 1927 through 1944. The high point of the CD, to me, is his recordings of Trouble in Mind and Black Rider in a 1936 session for Bluebird labelled as Jones' Chicago Cosmopolitans. It is always interesting to hear a writer interpret his own songs, especially where the songs have become so famous in the hands of others. The rest of the CD comprises songs mostly written by Jones. (There is, however, one song he did not write that is a period piece about Joe Louis that is interesting as well.) These were not all-star sessions and only those generally familiar with jazz from this period will recognize names like Roy Palmer or Lee Collins. Still, this is quality music from this period put together with the usual great packaging and care which we came to know from the Chronos label. ~ Morris

Richard M. Jones (piano)
Omer Simeon (clarinet, alto sax)
Herschel Evans (tenor sax)
Jimmy Cobb (cornet)
Baby Dodds (drums)

1. Jazzin' Babies Blues
2. African Hunch
3. Boar Hog Blues
4. Good Stuff
5. Hollywood Shuffle
6. Hot And Ready
7. It's A Low-Down Thing
8. Novelty Blues
9. Trickle Britches Blues
10. Bring It On Home To Grandma
11. Blue Reefer Blues
12. Muggin' The Blues
13. I'm Gonna Run You Down
14. Joe Louis Chant
15. Baby O' Mine
16. Trouble In Mind
17. Black Rider
18. 29th And Dearborn
19. New Orleans Hop Scop Blues
20. Jazzin' Babies Blues
21. Canal Street Blues

Ray Draper - Tuba Sounds

This post has been here since a year ago today. As have the Silver and Waldron: the archives can be fun, folks.

Not the novelty item you might think it is, this is a solid bop session from some fine players. If it is formulaic - well, it was a great formula. But note the restraint used - rather than make this a 'tuba' album, Draper plays at times a support role. Example: in the first tune, while the horns are stating and restating the head in unison, Draper is playing a contramelody that works very well. As is often the case, Mal Waldron is a great underlying strength here, and the Billie Holiday association in the tune "You're My Thrill" is interesting. Webster Young was a great Billie fan, later going on to record a tribute album. Waldron, of course, was Holiday's accompanist for the remaining two years of her life.

"One of the first tuba players to lead his own recording session in a bebop setting, Ray Draper was only 16 when he recorded the music on this CD reissue, his debut. Teamed in a sextet with trumpeter Webster Young (also making his recording debut), altoist Jackie McLean, pianist Mal Waldron, bassist Spanky DeBrest, and drummer Ben Dixon, Draper fits in pretty well. His solos are sometimes a touch awkward rhythmically and it takes one a little while to get used to his sound in this setting but, overall, this is a successful effort. The fairly modern sextet performs straight-ahead originals by Draper, Young, and Waldron in addition to the standard "You're My Thrill." ~ Scott Yanow

Ray Draper (tuba)
Jackie McLean (lto sax)
Mal Waldron (piano)
Webster Young (trumpet)
Spanky DeBrest (bass)
Ben Dixon (drums)

1. Terry Anne
2. You're My Thrill
3. Pivot
4. Jackie's Dolly
5. Mimi's Interlude
6. House Of Davis

Recorded in Hackensack, NJ on March 15, 1957

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Jackie McLean - Destination Out

Like Eric Dolphy before him, Jackie McLean sought to create a kind of vanguard "chamber jazz" that still had the blues feel and -- occasionally -- the groove of hard bop, though with rounded, moodier edges. Destination Out! was the album on which he found it. Still working with Grachan Moncur III and Bobby Hutcherson -- his direct spiritual connection to Dolphy -- McLean changed his rhythm section by employing drummer Roy Haynes and bassist Larry Ridley. This combination proved a perfect balance of the four elements. The program is four tunes, three of which were written by Moncur. If there was a perfect Blue Note session after John Coltrane's Blue Train, this was it. Opening with a ballad was a novel idea in 1966, but McLean uses Moncur's love and hate to reveal all the tonal possibilities within this group of musicians, and the textural interplay that exists in the heightened sense of form, time breaks, and rhythm changes. As begun on One Step Beyond, the notion of interval is key in this band, and an elemental part of Moncur's composition. The horn lines are spare, haunting, warm, and treated as textural elements by Hutcherson's vibes. On the tune "Esoteric," Hutcherson and Haynes throw complex rhythmic figures into the mix. Moncur's writing is angular, resembling Ornette's early-'60s melodic notions more than Coltrane's modal considerations. Hutcherson's solo amid the complex, knotty melodic frame is just sublime. "Khalil the Prophet" is McLean's only contribution compositionally to the album, but it's a fine one. Using a hard bop lyric and a shape-shifting sense of harmonic interplay between the three front-line players, McLean moves deeply into a blues groove without giving into mere 4/4 time structures. The architecture of his solo is wonderfully obtuse, playing an alternating series of eighths, 12ths, and even 16ths against Hutcherson's wide-open comping and arpeggio runs. The set ends with Moncur's "Riff Raff," a strolling blues that makes full use of counterpoint on the vibes. Moncur sets his solo against McLean's melodic engagement of Hutcherson, forcing both men into opposition positions that get resolved in a sultry, funky, shimmering blues groove. Of all of McLean's Blue Note dates, so many of which are classic jazz recordings, Destination Out! stands as the one that reveals the true soulfulness and complexity of his writing, arranging, and "singing" voice. ~ Wee Tam Jurek

As the title suggests, there is little about this disc that would constitute a safe approach to jazz. But then, alto man Jackie McLean never was one to take the easy path. The adventurousness of this set from 1963 hints of the changing scene at the time and McLean makes a bold statement here. Included in the adventure are the daring Grachan Moncur III, the equally confident Bobby Hutcherson, and the enterprising Roy Haynes. In all, this makes for a wild ride that opens the door to a new world of possibilities.

The hazy opener, "Love and Hate" sets the tone for the unusual session as the group provides a new standard for group improvisation. Things get stickier with the aptly titled "Esoteric," a schizophrenic number that alternates from an unsettling waltz to burning bop with expert direction from Haynes. The epic "Kahlil The Prophet" is the disc's centerpiece and a true masterpiece of modern jazz. The final blues "Riff Raff" ties the session to a close with a constantly repeating melodic motif that increases the tension before opening up to some stunning solo work by all. For those with a sense of adventure, this is the one to get.

Jackie McLean (alto sax)
Grachan Moncur III (trombone)
Bobby Hutcherson (vibraphone)
Larry Ridley (bass)
Roy Haynes (drums)

1. Love And Hate
2. Esoteric
3. Kahlil The Prophet
4. Riff Raff

Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey: September 20, 1963

Henry Threadgill - Easily Slip Into Another World

This Henry Threadgill title is one of three excellent recordings the jazz alto and flute player made for Novus in the late '80s. He is joined here by his stellar sextet (actually a septet) comprised of trumpeter Rasul Saddik, trombonist Frank Lacy, cellist Diedre Murray, bassist Fred Hopkins, and drummers Pheeroan Aklaff and Reggie Nicholson. Like avant-garde contemporaries Anthony Braxton and Muhal Richard Abrams, Threadgill created a seamless mix of improvisation space and complex arrangements to galvanize his musicians. Threadgill, though, went further by exploring a wider range of styles. The positive effects are made evident here by the group's inspired solos and ensemble playing on everything from the New Orleans' march "Black Hands Bejeweled" and Olu Dara's calypso-funk tune "I Can't Wait to Get Home" to the manic, free-form number "Hall" and sprechstimme-jazz piece "My Rock." Threadgill's acerbic and mercurial alto work seem to point to the dark humor underlying these and many of his other compositions, while Lacy's warbling and growling trombone statements bask in their inherent joy; the two sentiments made respectively clear on the expressionist-flavored "Let Me Look Down Your Throat or Say Ah" and the ecstatic, Raymond Scott-inspired "Award the Squadtett." Easily Slip Into Another World and Threadgill's other Novus titles (You Know the Number and Rag Bush and All) offer a fine introduction to the work of one of jazz's best and most underrated composers and improvisers. ~ Stephen Cook

Henry Threadgill (alto and tenor sax, clarinet)
Frank Lacy (trombone, flugelhorn, French horn)
Rasul Saddik (trumpet)
Diedre Murray (cello)
Fred Hopkins (bass)
Aisha Putli (vocal)
Pheeroan Aklaff (drums)
Reggie Nicholson (drums)

1. Can't Wait Till I Get Home
2. Black Hands Bejewelled
3. Spotted Dick Is Pudding
4. Let Me Look Down Your Throat or Say Ah
5. My Rock
6. Hall
7. Award The Squadtett

Horace Silver - The United States Of Mind

Three LP's released on 2 CDs: That Healin' Feelin' (1970), Total Response (1971), and All (1972)

Released on CD as part of the limited-edition Blue Note Connoisseur series, United States of Mind represents pianist and composer Horace Silver's sprawling trilogy of thematically linked albums recorded between 1970 and '72: That Healin' Feelin', Total Response, and All. To say that these albums were misunderstood is to understate the case. Silver had been one of Blue Note's most reliable and steady hard- and post-bop artists since the late 1950s. There was nothing in his catalog that prepared listeners for this adventurous undertaking that linked spiritual concepts and social consciousness to modern jazz as it encountered soul, funk, and pop at the dawn of a new decade. For starters, there are vocals on all three albums by Andy or Salome Bey and Gail Nelson, Jackie Verdell, and even Silver himself, either individually or collectively. Next is Silver using an electric piano, electric bass, and on the latter two records, an electric guitar. Elements of the signature Silver sound remain; how could they not? The tunes are all tight, beautifully arranged and expertly played, but they sound like pop records being made by a jazz band. (And what a jazz band: Mickey Roker or Idris Muhammad on drums, saxophonists Houston Person, George Coleman, Harold Vick, bassists Bob Cranshaw or Jimmy Lewis, and trumpeters Cecil Bridgewater and Randy Brecker et all.) Thematically they discuss everything from cosmic consciousness to "peace," love, and understanding with breezy, optimistic melodies that reply on group execution rather than solo interplay. And what's more, many of these tunes could have been played on the formatless FM radio at the time -- and some indeed were. That Healin' Feelin' is the "straightest" of the bunch, it relies less on funk and more on jazz melodies and harmonies, and with Andy Bey's elegant singing holding forth with plenty of emotion and smooth soul as its starting point. One lone holdover, "Peace" was given fresh treatment here with lyrics and a killer performance by Bey -- Norah Jones later recorded this version for her Blue Note demo. Total Response and All are another matter. These are thoroughly electric records, they use distorted wah wah guitars, fuzzed up funk basses, they indulge and engage pop song forms with abandon and, while thoroughly being jazz records, they attempt to dissolve the artificial dividing line between genres. There were singles issued from each successive platter and the tune "All" became a hit -- as Silver's debut vocal performance! Other songs form these recordings such as "The Happy Medium" were recorded and played by performers like Charles Earland in his live set. Marlena Shaw covered both "Wipe Away the Evil" and "The Show Has Begun." And while it's true that songs such as "Acid, Pot & Pills," "Won't You Open up Your Senses," and "Soul Searchin'" have seemingly dated lyrical contents, their rhythmic and groove elements have been employed by DJs of later generations in clubs and on dancefloors across the United States and Europe. Ultimately, these records deserve a new hearing. Perhaps Silver's traditional fans who worship the hard bop material still won't get them, and that's fine. But those investigating jazz funk, '70s soul, or seeking out lost grooves from back in the day would do well to listen hard because the reward is bountiful. The quality and vision of the music here is unquestionable, and the bigger message found on these albums is as timely and eternal. ~ Thom Jurek

CD1 ~ 1-5
Horace Silver (piano)
Randy Brecker (trumpet, flugelhorn)
George Coleman (tenor sax)
Bob Cranshaw (bass)
Mickey Roker (drums)
Andy Bey (vocal)
Rudy Van Gelder Studio, Englewood Cliffs, NJ, April 8, 1970

CD1 ~ 6-9
Horace Silver (piano)
Randy Brecker (trumpet)
Houston Person (tenor sax)
Jimmy Lewis (bass)
Idris Muhammad (d)
Gail Nelson (vocal)
Jackie Verdell (vocal)
Rudy Van Gelder Studio, Englewood Cliffs, NJ, June 18, 1970

CD1 ~ 10-11
CD2 ~ 1,4
Horace Silver (piano)
Cecil Bridgewater (trumpet, flugelhorn)
Harold Vick (tenor sax)
Richie Resnicoff (guitar)
Bob Cranshaw (bass)
Mickey Roker (d)
Salome Bey (vocal)
Rudy Van Gelder Studio, Englewood Cliffs, NJ, November 15, 1970

CD1 ~ 12-14
CD2 ~ 2-3
same as above
Rudy Van Gelder Studio, Englewood Cliffs, NJ, January 29, 1971

CD2 ~ 6,7,9,11,12
Horace Silver (piano)
Bob Cranshaw (bass)
Mickey Roker (d)
Salome Bey, Gail Nelson, Andy Bey (vocal)
Rudy Van Gelder Studio, Englewood Cliffs, NJ, January 17, 1972

CD2 ~ 5,8,10,13-14
Horace Silver (piano)
Cecil Bridgewater (trumpet, flugelhorn)
Harold Vick (tenor sax)
Richie Resnicoff (guitar)
Bob Cranshaw (bass)
Mickey Roker (d)
Salome Bey, Gail Nelson, Andy Bey (vocal)
Rudy Van Gelder Studio, Englewood Cliffs, NJ, February 14, 1972

Monday, June 22, 2009

Dave Douglas - Convergence (1998)

On “Convergence” the brilliant trumpeter-composer Dave Douglas pursues new territory following up on “Parallel Worlds” and the more recent “Five”. Douglas once again utilizes the sparkling talents of violinist Mark Feldman and cellist Erik Friedlander as the combination of strings, trumpet, and rhythm section consisting of Drew Gress (bass) and Michael Sarin (drums) create music that transcend many of the existing boundaries of jazz. “Parallel Worlds” and “Five” were landmark recordings for Douglas’ chamber-like excursions with his lead trumpet, string arrangements, pounding backbeats and keen sense of swing which comprised a sound that added a new and refreshing dimension to modern jazz.

Historically speaking, Douglas’ utilization of strings within this unit tends to play more of an active role contrasting other projects of this ilk past and present. Douglas’ creative visions along with these superb musicians-stylists project a group feel, which sounds uncannily natural. “Convergence” could be a pivotal masterpiece for this band as they extend their collective wares to provide music that is dazzling, pleasantly hypnotic, non-derivative and flawlessly executed.

The brief opener is a traditional Burmese song which translates to “Will You Accept My Love Or Not?” as the band performs incredible unison runs with all the intensity of a turbo-charged Indian raga or John McLaughlin’s amazing Jazz-East Indian band “Shakti”. Douglas’ “Joe’s Auto Glass” is filled with complex charts which touch upon Ornette Coleman’s renowned harmolodic development while Douglas’ “Tzotzil Maya” exemplifies the trumpeter’s sweet, crystalline tone and brilliant lyricism. Despite flawless technique, Douglas is a team player and skilled bandleader, as his compositions increasingly become more identifiable as time passes by reflecting his glaring personalized vision.

“Meeting at Infinity” borders classical, blues and hefty doses of hard-edged swing as the thematic approach is multi-colored and at times linear. “Meeting at Infinity” is a prime example of Douglas’ collage approach to compositional development. On Kurt Weill’s “Bilbao Song”, the band performs a playful tribute to Weill as Mark Feldman’s sonorous and lush violin passages prod the band into an about face as they deconstruct the familiar melody line. Michael Sarin’s polyrhythmical drumming is a thing of beauty as he lays the foundation for an all hands blowout of sparkling improvisation and winding thematic development. Douglas takes the lead, as wit and humor intentionally and momentarily bastardize the melody while the movements seamlessly transform into lush romanticism.

Douglas’ tribute to the late great “poet of jazz” drummer Tony Williams is portrayed via his composition “Goodbye Tony”. Here, Mark Feldman opens with a monstrous violin solo as Michael Sarin’s intense drumming paves the way for the forthcoming intensity along with Drew Gress’ pulsating bass lines. Douglas solos with passion and fire as this tribute to Tony Williams turns into a ferocious swing romp while Friedlander and Feldman change gears and handle the bottom end with Gress and Sarin. The proceedings heat up as the band engage in impossibly fast yet fluctuating tempos. Douglas and co. trace the evolution of William’s jazz career from Miles Davis, to his 1980’s Quartet with Wallace Roney. Erik Friedlander gradually balances the torrid pace with a pensive, warm cello solo, followed by light choruses that suggest heartfelt or sad emotions in accordance with the untimely passing of this great and important jazz giant. “Goodbye Tony” appropriately ends on a somber note.

“Convergence” is a milestone recording for this band as Dave Douglas continues his masterful assault on modern jazz. Enough said. ***** Out of 5 stars. Hopefully USA jazz radio will not ignore this gem and give “Convergence” some much deserved airplay; hence the pathetic state of affairs for jazz radio in general, that notion may be wishful thinking".

(Glenn Astarita)

1. Chit Kyoo Thwe Tog Nyin Lar (Will You Accept My Love or Not)
2. Joe's Auto Glass
3. Tzotzil Maya
4. Meeting at Infinity
5. Desseins Eternels
6. Bilbao Song
7. Border Stories - The Story
8. Border Stories - The Elaboration
9. Border Stories - The Exaggeration
10. Border Stories - Apocrypha
11. Collateral Damages
12. Goodbye Tony
13. Nothing Like You

Dave Douglas (trumpet); Mark Feldman (violin); Erik Friedlander (cello); Drew Gress (bass); Michael Sarin (drums).

Recorded on January 22 & 23, 1998 at Sound on Sound, NYC.

Louis Hayes Quintet - Light And Lively

Louis Hayes remains one of the master drummers in the hard-bop idiom, a key figure in the Detroit-based community and a player whose undemonstrative virtue of playing for the band has perhaps told against his wider reputation. The fine sequence for Steeplechase found him making a serious mark as a leader for the first time. Besides Hayes's own playing - and he is probably the star performer overall - the first point of interest is the return of Tolliver to active duty after a number of years away. ~ Penguin Guide

A superior hard bop drummer best known for supporting soloists rather than taking the spotlight himself, Louis Hayes led a band in Detroit as a teenager and was with Yusef Lateef during 1955-1956. He had three notable associations: Horace Silver's Quintet (1956-1959), the Cannonball Adderley Quintet (1959-1965), and the Oscar Peterson Trio (1965-1967). Hayes often teamed up with Sam Jones, both with Adderley and Peterson and in freelance settings. He led a variety of groups during the 1970s, including quintets co-led by Junior Cook and Woody Shaw. Louis Hayes appeared on many records through the years with everyone from John Coltrane and Cecil Taylor to McCoy Tyner, Freddie Hubbard, and Dexter Gordon, and has led sessions for Vee-Jay (1960), Timeless (1976), Muse (1977), and Candid (1989). Since the '90s, he has continued to remain active releasing such albums as Louis at Large in 1996, Quintessential Lou in 2000, and Dreamin' of Cannonball in 2002. ~ Scott Yanow

Louis Hayes (drums)
Charles Tolliver (trumpet)
Bobby Watson (alto sax)
Kenny Barron (piano)
Clint Houston (bass)

1. Light and Lively
2. If You Could See Me Now
3. Enchantment
4. The 10th Dimention
5. For The Love Of What
6. Darian
7. Blues For Macao

Mal Waldron - Mal/3: Sounds

With well over 4000 posts here at CIA, it really pays to look into the archives. It often amuses me to see people comment and acknowledge a "new" post that has been here for a year or two. This is from exactly a year ago today: might this be a new feature? Think of the time saved ripping and scanning!

"Mal/3 already shows signs of the tremendous stresses and tensions...there is even a track at the beginning...called 'Tension' as if to signal what's coming. There is something extremely uncomfortable about listening to Waldron at this period. The echoes of Bud Powell are unmistakable and faintly sinister, given the breakdown in Waldron's health just a few years later." ~ Penguin Guide

This is an unusual set by pianist Mal Waldron. He utilizes a sextet with trumpeter Art Farmer, flutist Eric Dixon, cellist Calo Scott, bassist Julian Euell and drummer Elvin Jones on three of his picturesque originals and his wife Elaine Waldron contributes vocals to the wordless "Portrait of a Young Mother" and Harold Arlen's "For Every Man There's a Woman." The music is not essential but holds one's interest throughout the straight CD reissue of the original LP. ~ Scott Yanow

Mal Waldron (piano)
Art Farmer (trumpet)
Elaine Waldron (vocal)
Calo Scott (cello)
Eric Dixon (flute)
Julian Euell (bass)
Elvin Jones (drums)

1. Tensions
2. Ollie's Caravan
3. The Cattin' Toddler
4. Portrait Of A Young Mother
5. For Every Man There's A Woman

Hackensack, New Jersey: January 31, 1958

Paul Moer - The Contemporary Jazz Classics of the Paul Moer Trio

One of pianist Paul Moer's rare sessions as a leader (a date so obscure as to not even be listed in some discographies), this CD reissue from the Del Fi label features Moer in a trio with bassist Jimmy Bond and drummer Frank Butler. Best-known for his brief association with Charles Mingus, Moer plays quite well on ten songs, the majority of which are his compositions. Based on this thoughtful straightahead set alone, Paul Moer deserved much more recognition than he received. ~ Scott Yanow

A fine pianist, Paul Moer never gained a big name for himself and has long ago slipped into obscurity. Moer graduated from the University of Miami in 1951. He played with many West Coast musicians during the 1950's including Benny Carter, Vido Musso, Zoot Sims, Stan Getz, Bill Holman and Shorty Rogers. Moer worked in the studios (both as a pianist and as an arranger), toured Australia with Benny Carter in 1960, appeared on a few titles with Charles Mingus, recorded with Jack Montrose and John Graas, and cut a trio album in the late 1950's for Del Fi with bassist Jimmy Bond and drummer Frank Butler. He worked with Paul Horn (1960-63), Ruth Price and Buddy DeFranco but then little was heard of the pianist until he made a trio set for Fresh Sound in the 1990's of Elmo Hope tunes. ~ Scott Yanow

Paul Moer (piano)
Jimmy Bond (bass)
Frank Butler (drums)

1. Azure Blues
2. I Love Paris
3. Cutie
4. Short Politician
5. To A Folk Song
6. Moer Or Less
7. Mary Ann
8. We'll Be Together Again
9. Our Waltz
10. Untitled Melody
11. Untitled (hidden track)

Jimmy Bruno - Sleight of Hand (1991)

Although Jimmy Bruno had been playing jazz much of his life, it wasn't until the guitarist was in his late 30s that he recorded his first session as leader, Sleight of Hand. This album is a fine example of a musician excelling by doing what he does best, which for Bruno, is hard bop and more hard bop. Since returning to his native Philadelphia from the West several years earlier, Bruno had been making bop his number one priority, and this CD (an inspired trio date employing Pete Colangelo on bass and Dr. Bruce Klauber on drums) demonstrates that he was enjoying that direction tremendously. Whether interpreting the standards "All The Things You Are" and "Stompin' At The Savoy" or tearing into exhilarating originals like "Egg Plant Pizza" and "Lionel's Hat," Bruno brings a definite urgency to the material. Another high point of the disc is Luiz Bonfa's "Manha De Caranval," which Bruno changes from a relaxed bossa nova to hard-driving Afro-Cuban jazz. After many years of paying the bills with non-jazz pursuits, the Philadelphian was doing exactly what he wanted -- and it showed. - Alex Henderson

Jimmy Bruno (guitar)
Pete Colangelo (bass)
Dr. Bruce Klauber (drums)
  1. Egg Plant Pizza
  2. Stompin' at the Savoy
  3. Body and Soul
  4. Wheat Thins
  5. Night Mist
  6. Big Shoes
  7. Manha de Carnaval
  8. Tenderly
  9. Song for Jimmy and Susanna
  10. All the Things You Are
  11. Lionel's Hat
  12. Here's That Rainy Day
Recorded April and May 1991

Chico O'Farrill - Cuban Blues: The Chico O'Farrill Sessions

One of the great things about CIA is that, at one time or another, you have been able to get all or pretty much all of the Norman Granz produced records of Charlie Parker, Bud Powell, Lester Young, Roy Eldridge, Dizzy Gillespie, Buddy DeFranco, Flip Phillips, Charlie Ventura, and the list goes on... While Granz's labels (Clef, Norgran, Verve, etc.) are not seen as important today as some of the other jazz labels of the day, it was responsible for producing some of the finest jazz music of the time, covering many different genres, including Afro-Cuban Jazz. While best known for being responsible for the charts for Machito's Afro-Cuban Jazz Suite, of which Charlie Parker was a dominant participant, Chico O'Farrill also led some great sessions under his own name for Granz. These two discs compile all of the O'Farrill led sessions as well as the original Afro-Cuban Jazz Suite. The liner notes have a nice interview with O'Farrill where he recalls his interactions with Granz: "I have never worked with a producer who was more amenable, [who] let you do whatever you wanted. You know what Norman used to say? 'Chico, you do what you want. You fall on your ass. I'll pay for it.'" Here is a nice review from our friends at AMG:

For any and all Latin jazz collectors, casual or serious, this is a fabulous deal, for it gathers together no less than six exceedingly rare Chico O'Farrill Clef and Norgran 10" albums, plus one under Machito's name, onto a slimline two-CD set. It will also come as a revelation to anyone who might scoff at anything associated with the 1950s mambo craze, for these discs reveal O'Farrill as a sophisticated, even daring arranger/composer who reached beyond merely providing a beat for dancers. Many of these charts — whether for the brief, dance-oriented Latin numbers; ultra-familiar standards like "Malaguena" and "The Peanut Vendor"; or jazz tunes — are loaded with intricate figures and striking harmonies obviously gleaned from classical study, all crisply executed with a brash, shiny edge by his Afro-Cuban groups and bands staffed by American jazzmen. Occasionally, he even conjures a delicate, classical ambience from a number like "Angels' Flight" (named after Los Angeles' legendary downtown funicular). The apotheosis of O'Farrill's experiments are his two full-blown, groundbreaking Afro-Cuban jazz suites. The first features Flip Phillips and the redoubtable Charlie Parker as soloists within the Machito band, and the second is even bolder in its zigzag journey through the classical, Latin, and jazz camps. Yet for all of his erudition, O'Farrill never forgets to ask for madly percolating Afro-Cuban grooves from his rhythm teams — which clinches the deal for any Latin music fan. ~ Richard S. Ginnell

One last thing I would like to mention. It is hard to ever say that a record's packaging exceeds the music itself. However, one of Granz's major achievements, in my opinion, is the use of David Stone Martin to illustrate countless album covers. Album cover artwork is something that has not been able to be reproduced in the smaller CD format. Especially for jazz music, being able to look at the cover and read the liner notes adds to the enjoyment of the music itself. Unfortunately, it seems that David Stone Martin's work is only known today among jazz music collectors. Martin was a genius who really ought to be included in discussions of the great artists of that time. (Let's not forget that Warhol also did jazz album covers as well for a time.) So, for the picture above, I have replaced the bland CD cover with one of my favorite David Stone Martin album covers.

Chico O'Farrill (arranger, conductor)
Mario Bauza (trumpet)
Roy Eldridge (trumpet)
Charlie Parker (also sax)
Flip Phillips (tenor sax)
Ralph Burns (piano)
Billy Bauer (guitar)
Chino Pozo (conga)
Machito (marac)
Candido Camero (bongo)
Ubaldo Nieto (timbales)
Disc One
1. Avocadoes
2. Taboo
3. Jatp Mambo
4. Duerme
5. Almendra
6. The Disappearance
7. Cuban Blues
8. Sin Titulo
9. Dance One
10. Bright One
11. Flamingo
12. Last One
13. Tierra Va Tembla
14. Vamos Pa La Rumba
15. Mambo Korula
16. Frizilandia
17. Peanut Vendor
18. Ill Wind (You're Blowin' Me No Good)
19. Malaguena
20. Castigala
21. The Second Afro-Cuban Jazz Suite
Disc Two
1. Havana Special
2. Carioca
3. Fiesta Time
4. Heat Wave
5. It Ain't Necessarily So
6. Guess What
7. Cry Baby Blues
8. Lamento
9. You Stepped Out Of A Dream
10. Cachita
11. Rumbonsito
12. Te Quiero Dijiste
13. Siboney
14. Angel's Flight
15. Tres Palabres
16. No Te Importe Saber
17. Vaya Con Dios
18. Pianarabatibir
19. L.A. Mambo
20. Quiereme Mucho
21. More Mambo
22. Mambo For Bunto
23. Botellero
24. Afro-Cuban Suite

Jim Hall - Jim Hall & Basses

Jim Hall is no stranger to guitar/bass duets after several memorable outings with the likes of Ron Carter and Red Mitchell, but this series of studio sessions is even more challenging, mixing it up in pairings with Dave Holland, Christian McBride, Charlie Haden, George Mraz, and Scott Colley. Only three of the 13 pieces are standards, including a soft and sparse treatment of "All the Things You Are" with Mraz, a whisper-soft and slowly savored "Don't Explain" with Haden, and a switch to acoustic guitar for a tense "Besame Mucho" with Colley. Hall's skills as a composer are vastly underrated by the jazz audience as a whole, but his fellow players recognize his formidable skills. He makes a relatively rare appearance on a 12-string acoustic guitar in his challenging opener, "End the Beguine," in which he and Holland rise to the demands of this captivating piece. McBride joins the leader for the playful waltz "Dog Walk," while Colley, Hall's regular bassist at the time of these recording sessions, joins him for the invigorating "Dream Steps," a reworking of the chords to the standard "You Stepped Out of a Dream." In addition to several memorable duo (or trio) improvisations, Hall is joined by both Colley and Mraz for the initially loping and suddenly very abstract "Tango Loco," featuring Mraz's tasty arco bass. Hall's adventuresome streak as a composer, arranger, and performer continues to flourish. ~ Ken Dryden

Jim Hall (acoustic & electric guitars)
Dave Holland (bass)
Christian McBride (bass)
George Mraz (bass)
Scott Colley (bass)
Charlie Haden (bass)

1. End The Beguine!
2. Bent Blue
3. Abstract 1
4. All The Things You Are
5. Abstract 2
6. Sam Jones
7. Don't Explain
8. Dog Walk
9. Abstract 3
10. Besame Mucho
11. Dream Steps
12. Abstract 4
13. Tango Loco

Recorded at Avatar Studios, New York, New York on January 7-8, 2001

Shorty Rogers, Gerry Mulligan - Modern Sounds & G.M. & His Ten-tette

On the heels of Miles Davis' style-defining release Birth of the Cool, Shorty Rogers and Gerry Mulligan chimed in with their own important cool jazz records, placing the music in its future West Coast home in the process. Modern Sounds brings together some of these seminal recordings, including a 1951 set by Rogers and His Giants and a 1953 date by Mulligan and His Tennette. Rogers' outfit includes then future West Coast stars like alto saxophonist Art Pepper, tenor saxophonist Jimmy Giuffre, pianist Hampton Hawes, and drummer Shelley Manne, among others. Each soloist gets plenty of room to stretch out on a set including four Rogers originals; Pepper particularly shines on a fine rendition "Over the Rainbow," while Giuffre deserves special mention for his sparkling original "Four Mothers." Save for Vernon Duke's "Taking a Chance on Love," the second half of this collection includes all Mulligan originals. Similar to Rogers' fine work, these cuts bounce along on airy and subtly complex arrangements. Joining Mulligan are standout soloists like trumpeters Chet Baker and Pete Candoli, alto saxophonist Bud Shank, and drummer Chico Hamilton. Highlights include "Westwood Walk," "A Ballad," and "Rocker" (this last cut having originally been cut as part of the Birth of the Cool sessions). A very enjoyable set taking in the beginnings of west coast jazz.
Stephen Cook, All Music Guide

01 Popo (S.Rogers)
02 Didi (S.Rogers)
03 Four Mothers (J.Giuffre)
04 Over the Rainbow (Arlen, Harburg)
05 Apropos (S.Rogers)
06 Sam and the Lady (S.Rogers)
07 Westwood Walk (G.Mulligan)
08 A Ballad (G.Mulligan)
09 Walking Shoes (G.Mulligan)
10 Rocker (G.Mulligan)
11 Taking a Chance on Love (Duke, Fetter, Latouche)
12 Flash (G.Mulligan)
13 Simbah (G.Mulligan)
14 Ontet (G.Mulligan)

#1-6: Shorty Rogers And His Giants "Modern Sounds"
Shorty Rogers (trumpet, arr)
John Graas (french horn)
Gene Englund (tuba)
Art Pepper (alto sax)
Jimmy Giuffre (tenor sax, arr)
Hampton Hawes (piano)
Don Bagley (bass)
Shelly Manne (drums)

Recorded in Hollywood, CA, on October 8, 1951

#7-14: Gerry Mulligan "Gerry Mulligan and His Ten-tette"
Chet Baker (trumpet)
Pete Candoli (trumpet)
Bob Enevoldsen (valve trombone)
John Graas (french horn)
Ray Seigal (tuba)
Bud Shank (alto sax)
Don Davidson (baritone sax)
Gerry Mulligan (baritone sax, piano)
Joe Mondragon (bass)
Larry Bunker (drums 11-14)
Chico Hamilton (drums 7-10)

Recorded at Capitol Studios, Melrose Avenue, Los Angeles, CA, on January 29 & 31, 1953

Leroy Carr - Sloppy Drunk

The title of this generous collection doesn’t mince words about the principal vice of its subject. Carr was one of the most famous and self-debasing artists in the history of the blues. So much so that his battles with the bottle are nearly as legendary as his talent. Forming one of the first high profile partnerships in the Blues Carr and his longtime collaborator Scrapper Blackwell took their music to the top of the ‘race music’ charts. It was a rocky ride however. Inflating egos and Carr’s aforementioned affliction nearly spelled the end at numerous points during the pair’s career. But before everything finally fell apart in a morass alcohol and sour grapes they managed to build an impressive body of work, much of the best of which is contained on these two discs.

Their musical template was a relatively simple one- catchy blues based figures advanced by Carr’s keys and buoyed by Blackwell’s nimble chordal accompaniment. Many of the songs followed this same replicated structure only deviating in terms of lyrical imagery and vocal delivery. Carr’s voice was a perfect match for the blues, high-pitched and haunted with a fatalistic resolve that mirrored the sorrowful content of the songs. Meanwhile Blackwell’s strumming worked mesmerically at caulking all the rhythmic nooks and crannies. Together the two blend in a tightly crafted tandem that still retained a rough and tumble coarseness.

This remarkably thorough set moves through the duo’s first session to its ill-fated last, where Blackwell evidently became so incensed that he had to leave the studio after only four numbers. Listened to in one sitting the music becomes unavoidably redundant, but taken in easily managed parcels the whole package reveals all of the reasons behind the duo’s rampant popularity. In addition, the appearance of Josh White on second guitar for two tunes also makes for a refreshing change of pace. On the final session Carr’s booze-induced difficulties are readily apparent in his playing and made even more audible by Blackwell’s absence on the concluding four tracks. He sticks to simple rolls rather than more involved patterns, but hearing him alone only hints at what might have been had he been able to abolish his demons and continue to record. ~ Derek Taylor

The last track he cut was the prophetic "Six Cold Feet In The Ground"...

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Roy Ayers - Stoned Soul Picnic (1968)

Stoned Soul Picnic is vibraphonist Roy Ayers' third and probably best solo album, made in 1968 while he was still a part of Herbie Mann's group. Ayers stands clearly in the shadow of Bobby Hutcherson on this primarily modally-oriented date, sounding nothing like the groove-meister he would become known as later in the 1970s.

Producer Mann, always an underrated talent scout, assembles an especially exceptional septet for Ayers here with Gary Bartz on alto sax, arranger Charles Tolliver on trumpet/flugelhorn, Hubert Laws on flute, Herbie Hancock on piano (and probably uncredited organ on the title cut), Ron Carter or Miroslav Vitous on bass and Grady Tate on drums.

The program is a typical late 1960s menu, heavy on such Top 40 pop covers as the dated "Stoned Soul Picnic," "For Once In My Life" and "What The People Say." What sets these and the interesting, if unsuccessful, cover of Jobim's "Wave" apart are Tolliver's rather ingenious arrangements. Tolliver seems to tear apart the constraints of these duds (although "Picnic" is beyond hope) by dramatically slowing down the melodies, providing Ayers the time and space to set the mood (Tolliver correctly recognizes Ayers's strengths with ballads) and punctuating with nicely considered horn statements in between.

It is the two modal originals here — Ayers lovely "A Rose For Cindy" and Tolliver's waltz, "Lil's Paradise" — that make this disc worth hearing. Ayers plays some of his finest-ever work on these pieces. You're sure to hear something new and different in these pieces every time. Hancock completists will also be especially pleased with the pianist's performance here (and on "What The People Say" too).

Except for the nods toward late 1960s pop-jazz conventions, Stoned Soul Picnic is a marvelous disc well worth investigating. With so much of Ayers's West Coast work of the 1960s (especially with Jack Wilson) lost in limbo, this disc serves as a cogent reminder of the strength of the vibist's chops. And groove lovers might be happily surprised hearing what Ayers was up to before the groove. (Douglas Payne)

1.- A Rose For Cindy
2.- Stoned Soul Picnic
3.- Wave
4.- For Once In My Life
5.- Lil's Paradise
6.- What The People Say

Roy Ayers (vibes); Gary Bartz (alto sax); Charles Tolliver (arranger, trumpet, flugelhorn); Hubert Laws (flute); Herbie Hancock (piano, organ); Ron Carter (bass on #1 & 2); Miroslav Vitous (bass on # 3-6); Grady Tate (drums).

Recorded on June 20, 1968.

Track Of The Day

Frank Rosolino Quintet - Frank Rosolino Quintet

"Rosolino/5 is close to the best of the available records: three Rosolino standards, mostly in modified blues forms, together with 'Thou Swell', 'They Say', the old groaner 'Cherry' and Bill Holman's topically titled 'Fallout'. Typically, almost every track involves some manipulation of time or harmony, with 'Thou Swell' falling unexpectedly in threes, and 'How Long' cast in a long, yearning line that puts maximum emphasis on the interplay between Rosolino and the superlative Kamuca, who has rarely sounded better on disc." ~ Penguin Guide

This session for the short-lived Mode label remains the zenith of Frank Rosolino's recorded output. Paired with a stellar support unit featuring pianist Vince Guaraldi, tenorist Richie Kamuca, bassist Monty Budwig, and drummer Stan Levey, the trombonist not only delivers some of the most dazzling solos of his career, but also proves himself a gifted composer, contributing a handful of original tunes that fit comfortably alongside standards like Gershwin's "How Long Has This Been Going On?" Largely eschewing more uptempo fare, Rosolino instead favors a simmering, soulful bop approach that champions feeling as much as technique. This is music with genuine emotional heft and intellectual edge. ~ Jason Ankeny

Frank Rosolino (trombone)
Richie Kamuca (tenor sax)
Vince Guaraldi (piano)
Monty Budwig (bass)
Stan Levey (drums)

1. Cherry
2. Let's Make It
3. How Long Has This Been Going On
4. They Say
5. Fine Shape
6. Fallout
7. Thou Swell
8. Tuffy

Recorded at Radio Recorders, Hollywood, California: June, 1957

Billie Holiday - Vol. 5: 1937-1938 (Masters Of Jazz)

This CD of Lady's 1937-1938 activities finds her performing with Count Basie's, Teddy Wilson's and her own orchestras. Earlier in 1937 she had recorded some small group numbers with another John Hammond discovery; Count Basie. The opening track here - and tracks 16 and 17 of Volume 4 are, however, the only recordings of Billie with the complete Basie outfit. As with the other tracks around this period it is Teddy Wilson in the place of Basie.

Having come off the Basie tour - which she discusses in her book - the band was in a quiet period and Holiday was able to make two substantial recording sessions; one under Wilson's nominal leadership and one under her own. These make up all but one of the twenty-one tracks of this volume. Twelve tunes are the basis of the twenty tracks of these sessions.

Billie Holiday (vocal)
Lester Young (tenor sax)
Herschel Evans (tenor sax)
Buck Clayton (trumpet)
Charlie Shavers (trumpet)
Teddy Wilson (piano)
John Kirby (bass)
Jo Jones (drums)
Cozy Cole (drums)

1. I Can't Get Started
2. My First Impression Of You
3. My First Impression Of You
4. When You're Smiling
5. When You're Smiling
6. I Can't Believe That You're In Love With Me
7. I Can't Believe That You're In Love With Me
8. If Dreams Come True
9. If Dreams Come True
10. Now They Call It Swing
11. Now They Call It Swing
12. On The Sentimental Side
13. On The Sentimental Side
14. Back In Your Own Backyard
15. Back In Your Own Backyard
16. When A Woman Loves A Man
17. When A Woman Loves A Man
18. The Moon Looks Down And Laughs
19. The Moon Looks Down And Laughs
20. If I Were You
21. Forget If You Can

Muddy Waters - The Complete Plantation Recordings

Most of us know Muddy Waters as a pompadour-wearing, cadillac-talking, big city Chicago bluesman; a stereotype that he helped to engender. And when we read about his importance as a transitional figure from rural Mississippi blues to urban electric blues, it can seem just like some abstract trope that critics made up. But here is the Rosetta stone : if you ever dismissed, or thought overstated, the roots of Muddy Waters as some critical invention then lend an ear. This is the country boy in Mississippi. This is the real deal.

At long last, Muddy's historic 1941-1942 Library of Congress field recordings are all collected in one place, with the best fidelity that's been heard thus far. Waters performs solo pieces (you can hear his slide rattling against the fretboard in spots) and band pieces with the Son Sims Four, "Rosalie" being a virtual blueprint for his later Chicago style. Of particular note are the inclusion of several interview segments with Muddy from that embryonic period and a photo of Muddy playing on the porch of his cabin, dressed up and looking sharper than any Mississippi sharecropper on Stovall's plantation you could possibly imagine. This much more than just an important historical document; this is some really fine music imbued with a sense of place, time and loads of ambience. ~ Cub Koda

This is a treasure trove--for the Muddy Waters fan, for the blues historian, for the country-blues enthusiast. Alan Lomax, searching for Robert Johnson (recently deceased), came through and recorded a young McKinley Morganfield. The rest is history. Early versions of future classics can be found on these field recordings from 1941-42, and the guitar and voice that would have unimaginable influence on blues and rock & roll. There's no Chicago yet in these often-scratchy recordings, but if you listen, you can hear where it came from. ~ Genevieve Williams

1. Country Blues (Number One)
2. Interview #1
3. I Be's Troubled
4. Interview #2
5. Burr Clover Farm Blues
6. Interview #3
7. Ramblin' Kid Blues (Partial Version)
8. Ramblin' Kid Blues
9. Rosalie
10. Joe Turner
11. Pearlie May Blues
12. Take A Walk With Me
13. Burr Clover Blues
14. Interview #4
15. I Be Bound To Write To You (First Version))
16. I Be Bound To Write To You (Second Version)
18. You Got To Take Sick And Die Some Of These Days
19. Why Don't You Live So God Can Use You
20. Country Blues (Number Two)
21. You're Gonna Miss Me When I'm Gone (Number Two)
22. 32-20 Blues

BN LP 5008 Erroll Garner - Overture To Dawn, Volume 2

Erroll Garner - Overture To Dawn, Volume 2

Erroll Garner. A room. A piano. Part 2.

For specific tracklistings, have a look at the excellent Jazz Discography Project

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Buddy Collette - Tanganyika

This set, presented by disc jockey Sleepy Stein but actually led by multireedist Buddy Collette, slightly predates the Chico Hamilton Quintet and hints strongly at that chamber jazz group. Comprised of Collette, drummer Chico Hamilton, trumpeter John Anderson, pianist Gerald Wiggins, guitarist Jimmy Hall and bassist Curtis Counce -- if one substitutes cellist Fred Katz for Anderson and Wiggins and changes the bassist, the result is the Chico Hamilton Quintet of 1955. The music is mostly group originals (five by Collette) and is an excellent example of cool jazz. V.S.O.P. has reissued this worthy recording from the obscure DIG label on CD. ~ Scott Yanow

This sextet, with three members of the Chico Hamilton Quintet, presents a program of interesting music, for the most part arranged by Buddy Collette. In part reminiscent of the first release by the Chico Hamilton Quintet on Pacific jazz, there are enough straight ahead tunes to more than satisfy less eclectic tastes. Very well recorded, with fine performances by all.

Buddy Collette (reeds)
Chico Hamilton (drums)
John Anderson (trumpet)
Gerald Wiggins (piano)
Jim Hall (guitar)
Curtis Counce (bass)

1. Green Dream
2. It's You
3. A Walk On The Veldt
4. How Long Has This Been Going On
5. The Blindfold Test
6. Jungle Pogo Stick
7. Tanganyika
8. Wagnervous
9. And So Is Love
10. Coming Back For More

Capitol Records Studios, Hollywood, California: October 11, 1956

John Graas - International Premiere In Jazz

Jazz Chaconne? I'm more familiar with Iris Chacon.

Along with Julius Watkins, John Graas was one of the first jazz French horn soloists. After playing some classical music, in 1942 he became a member of the Claude Thornhill Orchestra. A period in the Army (1942-1945) and stints with the Cleveland Orchestra and Tex Beneke's big band preceded Graas' first high-profile gig, playing with Stan Kenton's Innovations Orchestra (1950-1951). After leaving Kenton, he settled in Los Angeles and worked as a studio musician in addition to being used on West Coast jazz dates by Shorty Rogers and others. Graas, an excellent composer who sought to combine together jazz and classical music (predating the third stream movement), recorded fairly regularly as a leader during 1953-1958, sessions that (with the exception of one V.S.O.P. release) have not been reissued. He died of a heart attack at the age of 37. ~ Scott Yanow

John Graas was a multi-talented French horn player not shy to take chances in both his solos and his writing. On this V.S.O.P. CD reissue of two sessions for Andex, Graas performs his 17-and-a-half-minute three-part "Jazz Chaconne No. 1" and four alternate takes with a nonet including altoist Art Pepper, trumpeter Jack Sheldon, and flutist Buddy Collette. In addition, Graas' four-movement "Jazz Symphony No. 1" is played by the Rundfunk Symphony Orchestra with guest soloists taken from the Erwin Lehn band (German musicians who have remained quite obscure). The lack of liner notes is unfortunate, for it would have been interesting to hear what John Graas' goals were in writing this music. Overall, the performances hold one's attention, particularly the "Jazz Chaconne." This CD is recommended to adventurous listeners. ~ Scott Yanow

John Graas (French horn)
Art Pepper (alto sax)
Jack Sheldon (trumpet)
Bill Perkins (tenor sax)
Bob Enevoldsen (baritone sax)
Paul Moer (piano)
Buddy Collette (flute)
Red Mitchell (bass)
Larry Bunker (drums, vibes)

Rundfunk Symphony Orchestra
Gerald Weinkoph (tenor sax)
Ernst Mosch (trumpet, mellophonium)
Horst Jankowski (piano)
Werner Baumgart (alto sax)
Horst Fisher (trumpet)
Peter Witte (bass)
Hermann Mutschler (drums)

1. Chaconne Pt. 1: Take 4
2. Chaconne Pt. 2: Take 5
3. Chaconne Pt. 3: Take 2
4. Chaconne Pt. 1: Take 1
5. Chaconne Pt. 1: Take 3
6. Chaconne Pt 2b: Take 1
7. Chaconne Pt. 2b: Insert

8. First Movement [Allegro Moderato]
9. a) Second Movement - andante
9. b) Third Movement - allegretto
9. c) Fourth Movement - scherzo

1-7 recorded at Radio Recorders, Hollywood: March 18, 1958
8-11 recorded in Stuttgart, Germany: October, 1956

Jimmy Gourley - Highlights

This is a compilation - chosen by Gourley - of some of his latter day stuff: latter day being in this case between 1972 and 1987. Gourley, of course, will be familiar from many Vogue releases, especially at this site of the Clifford Brown, Art Farmer early '50s stuff. He was an early expat and had a long, respected career on the European jazz scene. And yes, Philippe Combelle is the son of Alix. Also, Dju Berry is a pseudonym for ... who?

A bebopping guitarist with a solid enough rhythmic edge for R&B, Jimmy Gourley came from a family background that more than just leaned toward conservatory training. Gourley's father actually founded the Monarch Conservatory of Music itself, located in Hammond, IN. Gourley was still popping pimples when he began bumping up against would-be boppers: one of the guitarist's high-school mates was none other than Lee Konitz, a wizard on the alto saxophone but at that point toting a tenor to high-school band class.

Heading south, Gourley went on his first tours in commercial outfits combing the territory of Louisiana and Arkansas. From 1944 through 1946 he shipped out with the Navy. When he returned he picked up a job in Chicago replacing the equally fine guitarist Jimmy Raney in a combo led by the somewhat obscure Jay Burkhart. In the late '40s Gourley was still keeping Windy City company but the names became more prominent, including singers Anita O'Day and the duo of Jackie Cain and Roy Kral.

The '50s would be best described as the guitarist's French period. Basing himself out of Paris, Gourley was associated mostly with Henri Renaud as well as his own house band stints at various clubs. Excellent recording sessions during this period present the guitarist in the company of tenor saxophonist Zoot Sims, alto saxophonist Gigi Gryce, trumpeter Clifford Brown, drummer Roy Haynes, and trombonist Bob Brookmeyer, not to mention homeboy Konitz. There was a dash back to Chicago during this decade but Gourley primarily spent his time in Paris, a long run as one of the local accompanists at the Blue Note allowing him the opportunity to continue associating with the cream of the jazz crop.

Gourley shows up on in one classic film on jazz, the noted 'Round Midnight, his featured number perhaps asking a question directly about his career, "How Long Has This Been Goin' On?" About a decade later, his own liner notes described him as "still searching, still stumbling" in a session involving his regular trio with drummer Philippe Combelle and bassist Dominique Lemerle. The guitarist is considered one of the most accomplished members of the jazz expatriate community. ~ Eugene Chadbourne

Jimmy Gourley (guitar)
Barney Wilen (tenor sax)
Lou Levy (piano)
Rene Utreger (piano)
Dju Berry (tenor sax)
Marc Johnson (bass)
Philippe Combelle (drums)
Kenny Clarke (drums)

1. Tafira Alta
2. Shameful Roger
3. That Old Devil Called Love
4. Blues For Gene
5. You Go To My Head
6. Tats
7. Pass It On
8. I Wish I Knew
9. Body and Soul
10. By Myself
11. North American Samba
12. Wrong Man Blues
13. Repetition

Larry Coryell & Emily Remler - Together (1985)

"I may look like a nice Jewish girl from New Jersey, but inside I’m a 50-year-old, heavyset black man with a big thumb, like Wes Montgomery." - Emily Remler (People Magazine, 1982)

In the mid 80's a unique listening opportunity descended on the jazz lovers of Charlottesville Virginia. Emily Remler and Larry Coryell stayed in Charlottesvile for a short time in order to develop material for a album that they planned. They held spontaneous sessions at a local watering hole, often with no announcement. They did not introduce themselves when onstage, but did introduce the “sitters,” those local musicians who often sat in with them.

This sometimes led to rather unusual audience dynamics. The bar was popular with University students, who frequently hadn't got the word on who was playing. Sometimes they would play “quarters” loudly and ignore the activity on stage. Once I overheard the following. “Hey, who are these people, anyway? Not bad, for locals.”

This is amusing on many levels. They are numerous expatriot New Yorker jazz locals here who are stars or near stars. At times it seems like everybody here is from New York or New Jersey anyway.

These sessions were rich and we listeners felt rich beyond anything we deserved. The mood swung everywhere: there were feisty moments when things didn't click. Sometimes someone walked off stage. It was a rare opportunity to see two musicians putting together the material for an album, live. - All About Jazz

There are two copies currently available at Amazon. The cheap one's going for $150.

Larry Coryell, Emily Remler (guitar duets)

  1. Arubian Nights
  2. Joy Spring
  3. Ill Wind
  4. How My Heart Sings
  5. Six Beats, Six Strings
  6. Gerri's Blues
  7. How Insensitive
Recorded in San Francisco, August 1985

Track Of The Day

Onzy Matthews - Mosaic Select 29

Sessions that have Horace Tapscott, Dupree Bolton, Joe Maini and Curtis Amy sitting next to each other? Sonny Criss, Herb Ellis, Teddy Edwards, Ray Crawford and Richard 'Groove' Holmes? Why was I not informed of this sooner?!?! Heads will roll!... maybe not.

The brilliant West Coast arranger Onzy Matthews was a master of the blues in many hues. He contributed to important recordings by Lou Rawls, Ray Charles and Esther Phillips, but his career never caught fire and, after working for the Duke Ellington orchestra as both a pianist (when Duke was ill) and an arranger, he spent much of his later years in Europe. Onzy made two albums for Capitol, the first of which "Blues With A Touch Of Elegance" is considered by many to be a big band masterpiece. This set collects those albums plus 29 previously unissued Capitol tracks by Matthews. They include an album of jazz sambas and four-tune session of tunes from "Blues With A Touch Of Elegance" with Richard Groove Holmes as the principal soloist.

These big band sessions include soloists Sonny Criss, Gabe Baltazar, Curtis Amy, Clifford Scott, Dupree Bolton, Bobby Bryant, Bud Brisbois, Lou Blackburn, Ray Crawford and Richard Groove Holmes. An added bonus is the legendary, previously unissued two-tune session by Earl Anderza and Dupree Bolton for Pacific Jazz.

Onzy Matthews died in relative obscurity in 1997 in his native Texas. Beyond the few sessions he arranged for other artists, these Capitol sessions made between 1963 and '65 are his only recorded legacy.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Freddie Hubbard - Breaking Point

Freddie Hubbard occasionally delved into more avant realms, and this track is a good example. A great tune—tune within a tune, actually—and arrangement by Freddie. Harmonically he takes it ‘out’ quite a bit, but the out-ness is always flawlessly executed. Unlike a lot of the free jazz trumpet players of the day, who would just blow air into the horn and move their fingers really fast, Freddie’s playing lines. Some nice collective playing on this one, too. ~ Randy Brecker

This CD reissue (which augments the original five-song program with alternate takes of "Blue Frenzy" and "Mirrors," originally issued on 45) brings back the first recording Hubbard cut with his own working band (as opposed to an all-star studio group). On these selections (particularly the memorable "Breaking Point"), Hubbard and his quintet (James Spaulding on alto and flute, pianist Ronnie Matthews, bassist Eddie Khan, and drummer Joe Chambers) play music that falls in between hard bop and the avant-garde, stretching the boundaries of the jazz modern mainstream. Their explorative flights are still quite interesting more than three decades later and Hubbard, having broken away from his earlier Clifford Brown and Lee Morgan influences, really sounds very much like himself. ~ Scott Yanow

Freddie Hubbard (trumpet)
James Spaulding (flute, alto saxophone)
Ronnie Mathews (piano)
Eddie Khan (bass)
Joe Chambers (drums)

1. Breaking Point
2. Far Away
3. Blue Frenzy
4. D Minor
5. Mirrors
6. Blue Frenzy 45
7. Mirrors 45

Recorded on May 7, 1964 by Rudy Van Gelder at the Van Gelder Studio, Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey

Art Ensemble Of Chicago with Cecil Taylor - Dreaming Of The Masters Vol. 2

This CD promises much more than it delivers, appearing to be a tribute to Thelonious Monk that features the Art Ensemble of Chicago and guest pianist Cecil Taylor. As it turns out, Taylor is not on the two Monk pieces ("'Round Midnight" and "Nutty"), which, although reasonably enjoyable, do not contain any new revelations. The four collaborations between the Art Ensemble (trumpeter Lester Bowie, Roscoe Mitchell and Joseph Jarman on reeds, bassist Malachi Favors and drummer Don Moye) and Taylor (which have nothing to do with Thelonious) find the group mostly in a subsidiary role behind the pianist's volcanic waves of sound. So overall, this set is more significant historically than it is musically. ~ Scott Yanow

This Scott Yanow promises much more than he delivers, appearing to be a critic that can offer an opinion or insight. As it turns out, his restating of the band personnel and naming of a tune or two, although reasonably enjoyable, do not contain any new revelations. The four sentences that are mostly the names of the band (trumpeter Lester Bowie, Roscoe Mitchell and Joseph Jarman on reeds, bassist Malachi Favors and drummer Don Moye) and Taylor (which have nothing to do with criticism) find the review mostly in a subsidiary role behind the expectations of the reader. So overall, this set is more air than it is substance.

Cecil Taylor (piano)
Lester Bowie (trumpet, flugelhorn)
Joseph Jarman (soprano, alto, tenor and baritone sax, flute)
Roscoe Mitchell (soprano, alto, tenor and baritone sax, flute, piccolo)
Famoudou Don Moye (percussion)
Malachi Favors Maghostus (bass, balafon)

1. Dreaming Of The Masters
2. Intro To Fifteen
3. Excerpt from Fifteen Part 3A
4. 'Round Midnight
5. Caseworks
6. Nutty
7. Dreaming Of The Masters

Ernestine Anderson - Sunshine (1979)

Positioned squarely in the mainstream camp, at home in the worlds of jazz and pop standards as well as the blues, comfortable with small groups and big bands, Ernestine Anderson regularly receives a lot of airplay on traditional jazz radio stations these days. She fits those demographics well with her tasteful, slightly gritty, moderately swinging contralto, someone who doesn't probe too deeply into emotional quagmires (and thus doesn't disturb the dispositions of those who use the radio as background) but always gives you an honest, musical account.

Anderson's career actually got rolling in the embryonic R&B field at first; as a teenager, she sang with Russell Jacquet's band in 1943, and she moved on to the Johnny Otis band from 1947 to 1949, making her first recording with Shifty Henry's Orchestra in 1947 for the Black-And-White label. In the 1950s, however, she converted over to the jazz side, working with Lionel Hampton in 1952-53 and recording with a band featuring Jacquet, Milt Jackson, and Quincy Jones in 1953 and with Gigi Gryce in 1955. Upon hearing the latter record, Rolf Ericson booked Anderson on a three-month Scandinavian tour; while in Sweden, she made a recording called Hot Cargo that ironically established her reputation in America. Once back in the U.S., she signed with Mercury and made a number of albums for that label until the early 1960s, when her career went into a decline. She moved to England in 1965 and remained largely invisible on the American radar screen until 1975, when Ray Brown heard her sing at the Turnwater Festival in Canada. Brown became her manager, got her to appear at the 1976 Concord Jazz Festival, and that led to a Concord contract which immediately bore fruit with the albums Live From Concord to London and Hello Like Before. These and other comeback albums made her a top-flight jazz attraction in the U.S. again -- this time for the long haul -- and in the 1980s, she was recording with the Hank Jones Trio, George Shearing, Benny Carter, the Capp-Pierce Juggernaut, the Clayton-Hamilton Jazz Orchestra, and her own quartet. - Richard S. Ginell

Ernestine Anderson (vocals)
Monty Alexander (piano)
Ray Brown (bass)
Jeff Hamilton (drums)
  1. L-O-V-E
  2. Summertime
  3. Time After Time
  4. God Bless the Child
  5. I've Got the World on a String
  6. I'm Walkin'
  7. I Want a Little Boy
  8. You Are My Sunshine
  9. Satin Doll
  10. Sunny
Recorded August 1979

Thursday, June 18, 2009

The Michael Marcus 3 - Live In N.Y. (1999)

Clearly indebted to Ornette Coleman, Michael Marcus leads his trio (drummer Cody Moffett and bassist Chris Sullivan) through dangerous terrain, navigating the way with his stritch and bass clarinet. Sounding on stritch very much like a cross between an alto and a soprano saxophone, Marcus hits the ground hard as he propels with a solid forcefulness that is as exciting as it is invigorating. The piano-less, sax-led trio faces numerous hurdles, including the challenges of maintaining harmonic balance and listener interest for a full recording. Marcus manages to do it all so well that the piano isn't missed at all. For the most part eschewing cliché, the reedist runs through six tunes of his own plus Dolphy's "Serene" and Monk's "'Round Midnight." He toots a wicked bass clarinet on the latter that pays homage to its composer while leaving Marcus' stamp. (Steven Loewy)

1.- Blue Halo
2.- Serene
3.- Message From Marcus
4.- Involution
5.- Thematic Collisions
6.- 'Round Midnight
7.- Message From Marcus (solo)
8.- Blue Halo / Glittering Twilights

Michael Marcus (reeds); Chris Sullivan (bass); Codaryl Moffett (drums).

Recorded Live at The Knitting Factory, N.Y.C. on January 22 & 23, 1999.

Track Of The Day

Frank Capp/Nat Pierce Juggernaut featuring Ernestine Anderson - Live at the Alley Cat (1987)

Much of the Concord Records catalog from the 80's has been going out-of-print and becoming increasingly harder to find so "get 'em while you can". This CD is one of those half 'n' half's with the powerhouse big band featured on the first five tunes and singer Ernestine Anderson out front for the last four. Great band, great soloists, great singer.

This was the fourth and final album by the Juggernaut before its co-leader pianist Nat Pierce's death. The five instrumentals (other than "Queer Street") find the band getting a bit away from their trademark Count Basie sound; the main soloists are Pierce, trumpeters Bill Berry and Conte Candoli, tenors Red Holloway and Bob Cooper and altoist Joe Romano. The final four numbers feature vocals by guest singer Ernestine Anderson, most notably on a lengthy and definitive rendition of "Never Make Your Move too Soon." A fine effort overall even if the orchestra is not featured much on the second half of the program. - Scott Yanow

Snooky Young, Frank Szabo, Conte, Candoli, Bill Berry (trumpet)
Charlie Loper, Garnett Brown, Buster Cooper (trombone)
Dave Edwards, Joe Romano (alto sax)
Bob Cooper, Red Holloway (tenor sax)
Bill Green (baritone sax)
Nat Pierce (piano)
Ken Pohlman (guitar)
Chuck Berghofer (bass)
Frank Capp (drums)
Ernestine Anderson (vocals)
  1. A Jug or Not
  2. Queer Street
  3. It Might as Well Be Spring
  4. Candy Bar
  5. Cat Nap
  6. I Let a Song Go Out of My Heart
  7. Spring Is Here
  8. Street of Dreams
  9. Never Make Your Move Too Soon
Recorded at the Alley Cat Bistro, Culver City, CA June 1987

Lord Buckley - His Royal Hipness

His Royal Hipness was as unique as they come, an eccentric white cat who made his mark by recasting familiar tales--from Shakespeare, the Bible, and beyond--in a frantic spray of black street lingo, jazz-speak, and hipster jive. In Buckley's mind, Jesus became "The Nazz," Gandhi "The Hip Gan," and explorer Vasco da Gama "Cabeza de Gasca." That would be adventurous now. It was simply unheard of in the 1940s and 1950s when Buckley was plying his trade, entertaining audiences he called his Royal Court. He was too weird to be more than a cult figure, but his defiant persona, deep individualism, and comic sense of cool certainly influenced the likes of Mort Sahl, Lenny Bruce, and even Bob Dylan. Gone, wailin' stuff. ~ Michael Ruby

"Was he an entertainer? A saint? A scoundrel? A bodhisattva? A con man? A raconteur? A shaman? A swindler? An evangelist? A shameless moocher? An artist? An agent of God? A prankster? A drunk?

Well, yeah."

Monologist Richard "Lord" Buckley was equal parts beatnik versifier, wigged-out aristocrat, standup comic, and snake-oil salesman. There's a bit of Buckley in everything from the hipster comedy/philosophy of Lenny Bruce to the neo-beat musings of Tom Waits. His Royal Hipness captures Buckley in full flight in 1951. His modus popular modus operandi--the telling of well-known tales from history and literature in '40s/'50s jazzman vernacular--is demonstrated at it's finest here.

Buckley underlines the inherent coolness of Joseph and Mary's son in "The Nazz," delivers a thumbnail biography "in hip" of Ghandi in "The Hip Gan," and takes a bop era stab at "Marc Antony's Funeral Oration." One of Buckley's most effective comedic devices was the conflict between his down-and-dirty colloquializing and his mock-magisterial bearing. That dichotomy, along with all the other comedic elements at Buckley's disposal, is played to the hilt on His Royal Hipness.

1. The Nazz
2. Gettysburg Address
3. The Hip Gan
4. Cabenza de Gasca, The Gasser
5. Jonah And The Whale
6. Marc Antony's Funeral Oration
7. Nero
8. People (Epilogue)

Willie Dixon - The Big Three Trio

When most people come across an artist who has a large and deserved reputation, there is a tendency to think that they emerged full-blown in their defining style. But artists often go through prolonged periods when they are synthesizing their influences, and this often sheds light on their later work (some, like Mondrian and Kandinsky, did their most interesting work before their later styles - you may think differently). This is a nice summation of blues giant Dixon's early work when he was an Ink Spot fan. Stay tuned for a similar look at Muddy Waters.

For the legendary Willie Dixon, the Big Three Trio was an important launching pad for a fantastic career. Pianist Leonard "Baby Doo" Caston and guitarist Bernardo Dennis (replaced after a year by Ollie Crawford) joined upright bassist Dixon to form the popular trio in 1946. Caston was just out of the service (where he'd played on U.S.O. tours during World War II); Dixon had been a conscientious objector. Dixon had previously worked with Caston in the Five Breezes and with Dennis in the Four Jumps of Jive.

Sharing vocal (they specialized in three-part harmonies) and writing duties democratically, the trio signed with Jim Bullet's Bullet imprint in 1946 for a solitary session before making a giant jump in stature to Columbia Records in 1947. Their polished, pop-oriented presentation resulted in one national hit, "You Sure Look Good to Me," in 1948, and a slew of other releases that stretched into 1952 (toward the end, they were shuttled over to the less prestigious OKeh subsidiary).

Incidentally, Dixon dusted off two songs the trio waxed for OKeh, "Violent Love" and "My Love Will Never Die," and handed them to Otis Rush a few years later when the burly bassist was working as a producer at Eli Toscano's Cobra Records. Rush's tortured "My Love Will Never Die" was a postwar masterpiece; the corny "Violent Love" may be the worst thing the southpaw guitarist ever committed to tape.

Caston split at the end of 1952, effectively breaking up the trio. But Dixon's destiny was at Chess Records, where he was already making inroads as a session bassist and songwriter. Pretty soon, he'd be recognized as one of the most prolific and invaluable figures on the Windy City scene. ~ Bill Dahl

The Big Three Trio was Dixon's post-World War II blues vocal trio. His songwriting talent was still developing, and there isn't much relationship between this material and his subsequent work on Chess. The smooth vocals, however, will recall the Ink Spots, among other vocal groups of the era. ~ Bruce Eder

By the time he was a teenager, Dixon was writing songs and selling copies to the local bands. He also studied music with a local carpenter, Theo Phelps, who taught him about harmony singing. With his bass voice, Dixon later joined a group organized by Phelps, the Union Jubilee Singers, who appeared on local radio. Dixon eventually made his way to Chicago, where he won the Illinois State Golden Gloves Heavyweight Championship. He might have been a successful boxer, but he turned to music instead, thanks to Leonard "Baby Doo" Caston, a guitarist who had seen Dixon at the gym where he worked out and occasionally sang with him. The two formed a duo playing on street corners, and later Dixon took up the bass as an instrument. They later formed a group, the Five Breezes, who recorded for the Bluebird label. The group's success was halted, however, when Dixon refused induction into the armed forces as a conscientious objector. Dixon was eventually freed after a year, and formed another group, the Four Jumps of Jive. In 1945, however, Dixon was back working with Caston in a group called the Big Three Trio,

Willie Dixon (bass)
Leonard Caston (piano)
Bernardo Dennis (guitar)
Ollie Crawford (guitar)

1. Big 3 Boogie
2. If The Sea Was Whiskey
3. I Ain't Gonna Be Your Monkey Man
4. 88 Boogie
5. Money Tree Blues
6. Big 3 Stomp
7. Since My Baby Gone
8. Hard Notch Boogie Beat
9. No One To Love Me
10. Don't Let That Music Die
11. It's All Over Now
12. Tell That Woman
13. Got You On My Mind
14. Etiquette
15. You Don't Love Me No More
16. Come Here Baby
17. O.C. Bounce
18. Cool Kind Woman
19. Juice-Head Bartender
20. What Am I To Do
21. Signifying Monkey

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Don Wilkerson - Elder Don

Another of those fancy TOCJ Japonophonic Augmentodiscs. Pleasant, but nothing to tax your mind.

Don Wilkerson's first Blue Note session, Elder Don (it was recorded before Preach, Brother! but released afterward), is a highly enjoyable set of hard-swinging, bluesy soul-jazz and hard bop. It's hardly a one-note collection -- "Senorita Eula" swings with a Latin lilt, "Scrappy" is a hard-hitting R&B number, the lightly Cuban recasting of Bob Wills' Western swing classic "San Antonio Rose" is fluid and infectious, "Lone Star Shuffle" and "Drawin' a Tip" are wonderful blues shuffles, and the ballad "Poor Butterfly" has a graceful, lyrical quality -- which is part of the reason why it's so impressive. Still, all of the credit for Elder Don's success has to go to Wilkerson, whose vibrant, robust tone dominates the session, and since he's playing with exceptional guitarist Grant Green and excellent drummer Willie Bobo, as well as pianist Johnny Acean and bassist Lloyd Trotman, that's no small accomplishment. In fact, records like this go a long way in proving that Wilkerson was one of the great underrated saxophonists of his time. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine

The archetypal big-toned Texas tenor of Don Wilkerson was unfortunately not documented on record as much as the quality of his music deserved; he was an excellent, earthy soul-jazz saxophonist capable of playing blues, ballads, bop, swing, and gospel-tinged R&B. Wilkerson was born in Moreauville, LA, in 1932, and first learned the alto sax; by his teens, he had moved to Houston and was accomplished enough on tenor to play with R&B outfits headed by Amos Milburn and Charles Brown. Wilkerson played on some of Ray Charles' earliest recording sessions in the mid-'50s, taking memorable solos on classics like "I Got a Woman," "This Little Girl of Mine," and "Hallelujah I Love Her So." He also led a band in Miami for a short time, and participated in numerous jam sessions with Cannonball Adderley. Adderley produced Wilkerson's first recording session, a 1960 date for Riverside titled The Texas Twister. After another short stint with Charles, he signed with Blue Note and recorded three stellar, soulful albums over 1962-1963: Elder Don, Preach, Brother!, and Shoutin', all of which featured Grant Green on guitar. Unfortunately, none was very successful, and Wilkerson didn't record any further as a leader. He remained in Houston for most of his life and passed away on July 18, 1986. ~ Steve Huey

Don Wilkerson (tenor sax)
Grant Green (guitar)
Johnny Acea (piano)
Lloyd Trotman (bass)
Willie 'Bobo' Correa (drums)

1. Señorita Eula
2. San Antonio Rose
3. Scrappy
4. Lone Star Shuffle
5. Drawin' a Tip
6. Poor Butterfly

Van Gelder Studio, Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey: May 3, 1962

Track Of The Day

Gil Evans and Steve Lacy - Paris Blues

"Ironically, Paris Blues is the only recording Gil made of an Ellington composition, and this might well have been the first time he performed his mentor's misic since the days when he used to transcribe it for his first band, more than fifty years earlier. The relative prominence of Gil's playing goes far beyond his more usual role as an accompanist. "That was one reason I really wanted to do it," Lacy explained, "because I had never heard a record where he was shown to full advantage as a pianist. And that's why I knew the duo would be a good thing for him to do." ... Gil's playing is in fact the great surprise of this album. He had established his unique sound years earlier, but his playing was usually heard quite sparingly." ~ Larry Hicock, Castles Made Of Sound

Recorded just three months before arranger/pianist Gil Evans's death, this duet album teams Evans with the great soprano saxophonist Steve Lacy. In truth, Evans's playing here is generally little more than melody statements and comping behind Lacy and, although the soprano is in top form, little of significance occurs. The duo performs lengthy versions of three Charles Mingus tunes, Duke Ellington's "Paris Blues" and Lacy's "Esteem." Evans was never a masterful keyboardist and clearly was not in Lacy's league as a player, so this CD is of greater interest from a historical standpoint than musical. ~ Scott Yanow

Gil Evans (piano)
Steve Lacy (soprano sax)

1. Reincarnation Of A Lovebird
2. Paris Blues
3. Esteem
4. Orange Was A Color Of Her Dress Then Blue Silk
5. Goodbye Pork-Pie Hat
6. Jelly Rolls
7. Esteem

Sam Rivers' Rivbea All-Star Orchestra

Sam Rivers' Rivbea All-Star Orchestra - Inspiration

Prior to Inspiration, Sam Rivers hadn't recorded for a major label in nearly 20 years, and he hadn't cut a studio session in two decades. That doesn't mean he was inactive; he was teaching, playing, and giving concerts but never recording. Aware that many of Rivers' big-band compositions -- not only his recent material, but some earlier works as well -- had never been given the proper treatment, saxophonist Steve Coleman helped arrange a recording contract with BMG, with the end result being the astonishing Inspiration album. The compositions on Inspiration are as old as 1968's "Beatrice" and as new as 1995's "Solace" (incidentally, both of those pieces are tributes to his wife Beatrice, who also provides half of the name of the featured big band, the Rivbea All-Star Orchestra). Remarkably, all of the compositions not only sound fresh, they sound visionary -- still ahead of their time. It's not only because the stellar musicians give vibrant, unpredictable performances, although that undeniably helps; Rivers' writing is the real key. His writing for big band is utterly original, blending big-band, bop, and avant-garde traditions together in unique, surprising ways. The dissonance never sounds irritating -- it sounds melodic -- and the complex themes are strangely inviting. Similarly, Rivers' playing is robust, swinging between intense bursts of sound and beautiful lyricism, and sometimes combining it all at once. His 16 colleagues -- including such luminaries as Steve Coleman, Greg Osby, Chico Freeman, and Ray Anderson -- follow suit, delivering wonderfully shaded, invigorating performances. Inspiration truly is a revelation, proving not only that Rivers retains all his creative power at the age of 75, but that avant-garde jazz can be as inviting as any other style without sacrificing any of its depth or daring. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine

Sam Rivers (soprano and tenor sax, flute)
Steve Coleman (alto sax)
Greg Osby (alto sax)
Chico Freeman (tenor sax)
Gary Thomas (tenor sax)
Hamiet Bluiett (baritone sax)
Ravi Best (Ttrumpet)
Ralph Alessi (trumpet)
James Zollar (trumpet)
Baikida Carroll (trumpet)
Ray Anderson (trombone)
Joseph Bowie (trombone)
Art Baron (trombone)
Joseph Daley (baritone horn)
Bob Stewart (tuba)
Doug Matthews (bass)
Anthony Cole (drums)

1. Vines
2. Nebula
3. Beatrice
4. Inspiration
5. Solace
6. Whirlwind
7. Rejuvenation

Sam Rivers' Rivbea All-Star Orchestra - Culmination

"Recorded at the same session as last year's Inspiration, the follow up disc Culmination delivers more of the same goods. Sam Rivers, long exiled (by choice) to Orlando, FL, has been making music in semi-obscurity for the past few decades with many of the Disney-based musicians. In this environs Rivers has total control over composition and arrangements, plus a supply of very talented but probably bored musicians. His 1996 trio recording Concept for the Rivbea is worth searching for.

Recently, with the reissue of his Blue Note discs by Mosaic Records and at the urging of saxophonist Steve Coleman, the onetime sideman to Miles Davis is getting more attention. These two orchestra recordings are his first for a major label in close to twenty years. Rivers has been very busy while we were away, writing, rehearsing, and preparing for this ambitious return. The compositions he wrote for the 17-piece orchestra were originally prepared for extended soloing and would have clocked out at 50 plus minutes each. But with recording budgets what they are, and truthfully with the modern attention span shortened to 30 second NIKE commercial length, his six-to thirteen-minute big band songs are wondrous treats. By shortening the solos and compacting the arrangements he seems to be bringing "pop" hits back to the jazz orchestra. Produced by Steve Coleman, the music is flavored by M-BASE jazz, a funky take on odd meters and modern street music. With a cast of former M-BASE musicians, Coleman, Greg Osby, Gary Thomas, and Ralph Alessi plus the likes of Hamiet Bluiett, Chico Freeman, and Ray Anderson, Sam Rivers was sure to have a very modern sound. Rivers writes quick changes and complex parts. With any luck we will hear more from this unique genius, maybe a live date, or perhaps a box set of extended concepts." ~ Mark Corroto

personnel as above

1. Spectrum
2. Bubbles
3. Revelation
4. Culmination
5. Ripples
6. Neptune
7. Riffin'

Recorded on Ditmas Ave, People's Republic Of Brooklyn: September 28-29 and October 2-3, 1998

Pioneers Of The Jazz Guitar

This is one of two Yazoo records I bought many, many years ago. I recently came across this CD version, and it is as good as I remember it.

This anthology features the predecessors and contemporaries of Django Reinhardt and Charlie Christian with an emphasis on the jazz guitar duet. Working within their seldom recorded solo or duet performances, master guitarists such as Eddie Lang, Lonnie Johnson, John Cali and others couple melodic sophistication with the kind of economy and restraint rarely achieved today in such compositions as Teasin' The Frets, handful Of Riffs, Chicken A La Swing, Feeling My Way and others.

Other than Django Reinhardt, the who's who of jazz guitar (all acoustic players) are heard on this sampler album from Yazoo. There are guitar duets by Lonnie Johnson and Eddie Lang, Lang and Carl Kress (the memorable "Feeling My Way"), Kress and Dick McDonough, and the team of John Cali and Tony Guttuso. In addition there are solo performances by McDonough and Nick Lucas. Although it would have been preferable to have this music with the complete sessions and in chronological order (the recording dates are unfortunately not included on the LP), this album has more than its share of classic performances and is worth a search. Scott Yanow

(The tracks have been tagged to reflect their issue dates.)

1. LONNIE JOHNSON & EDDIE LANG - "Handful of Riffs"
2. EDDIE LANG & CARL KRESS - "Feeling My Way"
3. NICK LUCAS - "Teasing The Frets"
5. JOHN CALI & TONY GUTTUSO - "Hittin' On All Six"
6. NICK LUCAS - "Picking The Guitar"
7. LONNIE JOHNSON & EDDIE LANG - "Have To Change Keys To Play These Blues"
8. DICK McDONOUGH - "Chasing A Buck"
9. CARL KRESS & DICK McDONOUGH - "Chicken A La Swing"
10. JOHN CALI & TONY GUTTUSO - "Satan Takes A Holiday"
11. CARL KRESS & DICK McDONOUGH - "Stage Fright"
12. DICK McDONOUGH - "Dick Bernstein Ramble"
14. JOHN CALI & TONY GUTTUSO - "A Study In Brown"

Emily Remler - Firefly (1981)

Another musician whom I dearly miss, it's been 19 years since Emily Remler left us but it seems like just yesterday.

It sounds very clichéd to say that many of music's best and brightest have lived fast and died young, but it is so true. From Jimi Hendrix to Charlie Parker to Patsy Cline, the 20th century was full of talented artists whose lives were cut short by their self-destructive ways. In an ideal world, Emily Remler would have had a very long career and made it to seventy or eighty; instead, the guitarist used heroin and died of a heart attack at 32. Firefly was Remler's first album as a leader, and it is a promising debut. Joined by pianist Hank Jones, bassist Bob Maize, and drummer Jake Hanna, a 24-year-old Remler delivers an enjoyable hard bop date. The album isn't groundbreaking by early-'80s standards -- although Firefly was recorded in 1981, it sounds like it could have been recorded in 1961. But there is no law stating that every young jazz musician who comes along has to reinvent the wheel, and Remler (whose influences include Wes Montgomery and Herb Ellis) brings a lot of potential to lively, swinging performances of Horace Silver's "Strollin'," McCoy Tyner's "Inception," and Montgomery's "Movin' Along." The New Jersey native also provides two original tunes ("Perk's Blues" and "The Firefly") and pleasantly surprises listeners by unearthing a pretty but lesser-known Antonio Carlos Jobim song titled "Look to the Sky." Unlike "The Girl From Ipanema," "Corcovado," or "One Note Samba," "Look to the Sky" is far from a standard; however, Remler's heartfelt interpretation demonstrates that the Jobim melody deserves to be much better known. With Firefly, Remler's recording career was off to an appealing start -- a career that should have been much, much longer. - Alex Henderson

Emily Remler (guitar)
Hank Jones (piano)
Bob Maize (bass)
Jake Hanna (drums)
  1. Strollin'
  2. Look to the Sky
  3. Perk's Blues
  4. The Firefly
  5. Movin' Along
  6. A Taste of Honey
  7. Inception
  8. In a Sentimental Mood
Recorded in San Francisco, April 1981

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Hal Singer With Charlie Shavers - Blue Stompin'

This is a fun set of heated swing with early R&B overtones. The title cut is a real romp, with tenor saxophonist Hal Singer and trumpeter Charlie Shavers not only constructing exciting solos but riffing behind each other. With the exception of the standard "With a Song in My Heart," Singer and Shavers wrote the remainder of the repertoire, and with the assistance of a particularly strong rhythm section (pianist Ray Bryant, bassist Wendell Marshall and drummer Osie Johnson), there are many fine moments on this enjoyable set. Recommended. ~ Scott Yanow

Hal Singer (tenor sax)
Charlie Shavers (trumpet)
Ray Bryant (piano)
Wendell Marshall (bass)
Osie Johnson (drums)

1. Blue Stompin'
2. Windy
3. With A Song In My Heart
4. Midnight
5. Fancy Pants
6. The Blast Off

Hackensack; February 20, 1959

William Parker / In Order To Survive - The Peach Orchard (1997-1998)

The Peach Orchard is a two-CD set showcasing bassist William Parker's work with an ensemble consisting of composer/instrument maker/pianist Cooper Moore (who limits his involvement in music to Parker's groups), improvisational saxophonist, Rob Brown and percussionist extraordinaire Susie Ibarra (Assif Tsahar, Matthew Shipp Trio, Davis S. Ware Quartet, One World Ensemble). This cream of the New York, contemporary, free jazz scene veers from such challenging, busy compositions as the explosive first track "Thoth" to such reflective pieces as "Moholo," basically a study in rhythmic intricacy featuring a five-minute introduction led by Ibarra to the 19-minute piece. Brown is eloquent and lyrical as he sails up and down scales through "Three Clay Pots." The title track is inspired by the devastation of a cherished Navaho orchard by an oppressive U.S. Army. The lengthy piece (20:45) is the quartet's collage of hostility and deep sadness. Disc Two opens with the profound and eerie "Posium Pendasem #3." Assif Tsahar joins the group on bass clarinet for the melancholy, piano-led piece. The beautiful mystery of autumnal changes are explored in "Leaf Dance," at once both bittersweet (Brown's lines) and playful (Cooper Brown). A traditional jazz melody acts as bookends for a series of Latin, common-time, and extemporaneous, thematic variations in "Theme For Pelikan." The band's theme, "In Order to Survive," a lively, rollicking and urgent composition fueled by the growing intricacy of Cooper Brown's part closes this two-disc set that offers new discoveries upon every listen.
(Thomas Schulte)

1. Thot 14.12
2. Moholo 18.51
3. Three Clay Pots 15.24
4. The Peach Orchard 20.45

5. Posium Pendasem #3 11.36
6. Leaf Dance 25.28
7. Theme From Pelikan 17.10
8. In Order To Survive 12.24

William Parker (bass); Cooper-Moore (piano); Rob Brown (alto sax); Susie Ibarra (drums);
+ guest on track 5,

Assif Tsahar (bass clarinet)

Recorded by Alen Hadzi Stefanov
1, 4: Context / NYC on March 20, 1998
2, 3, 8: Knitting Factory / NYC on July 2, 1997
6, 7: Alterknit / NYC on February 7, 1997
5: Context / NYC on March 21, 1998

Seegs brings us...

Seegs brings us...

The Best Pianists You Never Heard…Maybe: Part 5

Cecilia Coleman – Young and Foolish
A Cecilia Coleman Sampler

More and more, it seems, jazz in the US is becoming a regional phenomenon. Players stick to their home base and don’t automatically head for the New York music Mecca. The great Continental Divide separates players on the East and West Coasts and audiences have only the rarest opportunities to hear favorites who live and work somewhere else. Part of the problem is simply the response to economic reality: travel is expensive. Another part is that, unlike in the past, headliners today are unwilling to travel alone and pick up local talent for performances. And finally, jazz is now played by finely tuned groups who have spent a lot of time polishing their performance of highly complex arrangements. So, I despair of catching greats like Michelle Rosewoman, Jessica Williams, the Clayton/Hamilton Band, Bess Bonnier, or Cecilia Coleman, in live performance on the East Coast. I’d have a better chance in Europe or Japan.

Cecilia Coleman remains all but unknown on the East Coast. I only discovered her because Sharif Abu Salaam, the Thursday evening host for jazz on WKCR, Columbia University radio (streaming at www.wkcr.org), played some of her music. It was so good, I found myself fervently hoping my car would not outpace the radio signal before the music finished.

Yanow sums her up this way: “Leader of a stimulating quintet, and a talented pianist/composer whose music became more original with each year, Cecilia Coleman performs regularly in Los Angeles clubs.” She is heard with her quintet on “Young and Foolish,” the only one of her recordings that is OOP. She also records in trio format. The Cecilia Coleman Sampler includes selections from all her other CDs. Coleman’s music is available through CD Baby. Believe me, her recordings are worth the price.

Young and Foolish
Cecilia Coleman piano
Steve Huffsteter trumpet and flugelhorn
Andy Suzuki tenor sax
Dean Taba bass
Kendall Kay drums

1. Monsters
2. Divine
3. Somalia
4. The Real Thing
5. Celia
6. House of Cards
7. Slippin’
8. After You
9. Young and Foolish

Hal Singer - Rent Party

Notes by Phil Schaap, and the presence of the great Mickey Baker.

Tenor saxophonist Hal Singer, who had a surprise hit with "Cornbread," which led to him leaving Duke Ellington's orchestra shortly after joining it (he had temporarily become more popular than Ellington), was a honker if not a screamer. His 16 R&B-ish sides that are reissued on this CD are full of spirited and joyfully repetitious tenor. Most of the chord changes are related to "Flying Home" or the blues, although Singer did sneak in a couple of ballads ("Indian Love Call" and "Easy Living"). Singer did not have any future hits that would quite equal "Cornbread" (a one-note blues that is the leadoff cut), but he remained a popular attraction on the R&B circuit for a decade. These jump sides (which also include such memorable numbers as "Hot Rod" and "Rock 'N' Roll") might be a bit lightweight compared to the bop music of the time, but they are quite fun. This is Hal Singer's definitive set. ~ Scott Yanow

Hal Singer (tenor sax)
Wynton Kelly (piano)
Leonard Gaskin (bass)
George Duvivier (bass)
Bobby Donaldson (drums)

1. Cornbread
2. Teddy's Dream
3. One for Willie
4. Neck Bones
5. Rent Party
6. Singer Song
7. Rice and Red Beans
8. Swing Shift
9. Hot Rod
10. Rock & Roll
11. Indian Love Call
12. The Frog Hop
13. Hometown/Down for Dean
14. Easy Living
15. Hound's Tooth/Mr. Movin's Groovin'
16. Crossroads

Low Down by A.J. Albany

This fine book is one of a genre that might be called 'the ones they left behind': tales of the children and spouses that shared a life with a tormented (read junkie/alcoholic/schizoid) genius; the junkie 'genius' in this case being pianist Joe Albany. It's not as large a category, it seems, as those of the tormented geniuses themselves, and for this we can be grateful I suppose. Or shudder at the thought of why they might be silent.

But if this book - which is new and currently in print and ought to be in your hands or on order - is never recognized as one of the classics of it's sub-genre, it certainly deserves to be. Hell, this book is a fine little gem by any measure. The author is a very gifted writer who avoids many of the traps and cliches of those who suffered neglect, incest, abuse and grievous experience. I'm tempted to quote some of the lines and observations she just tosses off, but I'd have to quote twenty examples if I were to quote any at all. She has a gift with words and a wry sense of humor; sometimes the juxtaposition of appalling remembrance and the way it is told is just masterly.

The book has it's cameo appearances from the world of music and junkiedom; Art Pepper, Chet Baker, Louis Armstrong (whose brief mention again gives us proof of what a mensch Pops was), but because Ms. Albany came to child and young adulthood in the '60s and '70s there are references to members of the Mothers, the punk scene, and other scenarios that we don't usually find in memoirs by and about bebop players.

I wondered, as I was reading it, how Amy Jo was going to end the tale; indeed, she ends it at a stage in her life where many memoirs of its kind just begin, but the ending is remarkable in its handling of a scene which would have crushed many a person. And where you should be crying you may find yourself laughing. Except for the cast of characters, this is an all too common story. But A.J. Albany is an all too uncommon woman.

Go buy this book.

Sidney Bechet - The Complete Sidney Bechet - Volumes 3/4 (1941)

This is the second of three posts from this series of the Complete Sidney Bechet. This one focuses completely on the prolific year of 1941. Of special interest are two songs from April where, through the wonders of multi-tracking, Bechet plays clarinet, soprano sax, tenor sax, piano, bass and drums. The musicians union could not have been happy with that one! For those of you who enjoyed the first, this one will not dissappont. But don't just take my word for it...

The second of three two-LP sets released by French RCA continues the complete chronological repackaging (including alternate takes) of all of Bechet's Victor recordings. During the ten-month period covered in this valuable set, he recorded such classics as "Egyptian Fantasy," "Swing Parade," "The Mooche" and even the odd "Laughin' in Rhythm." Bechet, a remarkable soprano-saxophonist who made traditional jazz sound modern, also is heard on six instruments during his innovative overdubbed "one-man-band" performances of a blues and "The Sheik of Araby." This series is highly recommended but is becoming increasingly difficult to find. ~ Scott Yanow

Sidney Bechet (everything)
Charlie Shavers (trumpet)
Henry "Red" Allen (trumpet)
J. C. Higginbotham (trombone)
Willie "The Lion" Smith (piano)
J. C. Heard (drums)

James Williams - Magical Trio 2 (1987)

James Williams' second Magical Trio album, recorded just months after the first, brought back Ray Brown on bass and replaced Art Blakey with Elvin Jones on drums. Brown and Jones had previously worked together on three albums by Phineas Newborn, two from 1969 and one from 1976. In between the two trio sessions, James Williams worked with Dizzy Gillespie, Milt Jackson and Art Farmer as he continued to grow. The trio covers four standards as well as three Williams originals.

James Williams (piano)
Ray Brown (bass)
Elvin Jones (drums)

  1. Bohemia After Dark
  2. Too Late Now
  3. A Portrait of Elvin
  4. Roadlife
  5. In the Open Court
  6. You Are Too Beautiful
  7. Lullaby of the Leaves
  8. Bohemia After Dark (alt. take)
Recorded November 23-24, 1987

Monday, June 15, 2009

Lee Konitz - With Warne Marsh

Lee Konitz and Warne Marsh started playing duo saxophone lines together with their teacher and mentor Lennie Tristano starting in the late '40s. Konitz went on to have the more active career though he was perhaps a little too abstract a musician ... Full Descriptionto achieve the commercial success of a Paul Desmond. Marsh's musical concept is even more unusual--he has just about the driest reed sound outside of Anthony Braxton. The two saxophone brothers met up a few other times but this 1956 Atlantic album is their peak together and a highlight in Konitz's extensive discography. Guitarist Billy Bauer (another Tristano alumnus) provides requisite harmonic support on lively explorations of "Topsy," "I Can't Get Started," and Miles Davis's bebop classic "Donna Lee."

There aren't a whole lot of occasions to hear Lee Konitz's '50s-era telltale alto saxophone. So this 1956 date, which couples Konitz with Warne Marsh on tenor sax, is a great window on the Lennie Tristano school of improvisation. The melodies are all cushioned by blurred tones and bending shapes, and Marsh and Konitz's unison playing is jointly silken. They amaze with their very un-Basie-like read of "Topsy" and their equally un-Bird-like read of "Donna Lee," typically a vehicle for pyrotechnics. This stuff was assailed by some in the 1950s and '60s for its seemingly cerebral abstractions and avoidance of emotional intensity. And it still sounds "cool" by comparison to the "hot" sounds of bebop, but Konitz and Marsh exercise a kind of calmed creativity that seems to avoid the emotion-intellect question altogether, dropping the listener into a low-key but by no means low-intensity display of excellence. ~ Andrew Bartlett

Mislabeled cool jazz and judged as too academic sounding and even soulless by some critics and musicians, the post bebop work of Lennie Tristano students like Lee Konitz, Warne Marsh, Sal Mosca, and guitarist Billy Bauer brought a mellifluous and oblique introspection to jazz. This is not to say, though, that their music didn't in some ways adhere to the twin staples of jazz: swing and the blues. On this Konitz and Marsh classic from 1955, the two saxophonists do compliment the subtle rhythmic flow supplied by bassist Oscar Pettiford and drummer Kenny Clarke with fluid work of their own, but they also nicely foil it with snaking, stuttering lines and a tart tonal attack. And as far as the blues go, no one would say Konitz and Marsh were blues players per se, at least not in the more forceful and almost transcendent sense of Parker's work in the idiom, but they do deliver some fine solos here on Pettiford's slow blues "Don't Squawk." Their airy style in part grew out of Tristano's harmonically advanced and expansive appreciation of jazz, which is reflected in the disc's mix of material by Eddie Durham (one of Count Basie's swing-era arrangers), Parker, Tristano, and Marsh. Enjoyable, challenging, and certainly swinging. ~ Stephen Cook

Lee Konitz (alto sax)
Warne Marsh (tenor sax)
Billy Bauer (guitar)
Ronnie Ball (piano)
Sal Mosca (piano)
Oscar Pettiford (bass)
Kenny Clarke (drums)

1. Topsy
2. There Will Never Be Another You
3. I Can't Get Started
4. Donna Lee
5. Two Not One
6. Don't Squawk
7. Ronnie's Line
8. Background Music

East Coast Studios, New York: June 15 and 21, 1956

Walt Dickerson - Peace (1976)

On Peace, Cyrille drives things along with great generosity of spirit. Working without piano, Dickerson sounds both edgier and more expressive, recalling the innovative work of the previous decade. (The Penguin Guide To Jazz Recordings, Ninth Edition).

1.- Universal Peace
2.- Chant of Peace
3.- Warm Up

Walt Dickerson (vibes); Lisle Atkinson (bass); Andrew Cyrille (drums)

Recorded on November 14, 1976.

James Williams - Magical Trio 1 (1987)

Has it really been five years since James Williams left us? I remember first hearing him in 1981 when he was with the Messengers and whether a sideman or with his own group, James Williams was always impressive.

The first of three CDs headed by pianist James Williams that feature his Magical Trio (a recording group rather than a regular band), this strong outing matches the inventive hard bop stylist with bassist Ray Brown and his former employer, drummer Art Blakey. They perform three of Williams' compositions (including "The Soulful Mr. Timmons"), one piece by Brown, Thad Jones' "Mean What You Say," three underplayed standards plus the trio's ad-lib "J's Jam Song." A high-quality modern mainstream outing. - Scott Yanow

Odd as it may seem, Art Blakey and Ray Brown together on the same session was a real rarity.

James Williams (piano)
Ray Brown (bass)
Art Blakey (drums)
  1. Hammerin'
  2. Buhaina, Buhaina
  3. The Night We Called It a Day
  4. Old Times' Sake
  5. The Soulful Mr. Timmons
  6. Love Letters
  7. Mean What You Say
  8. You're Lucky to Me
  9. J's Jam Song
Recorded June 26, 1987

Lou Donaldson - Quartet/Quintet/Sextet

Since Quartet/Quintet/Sextet is Lou Donaldson's first full-length album, it's not surprising that it captures the alto saxophonist at the height of his Charlie Parker influence. Throughout the album -- on CD, the collection features all the music on the 12" LP, music from its 10" incarnation, and three alternate takes -- Donaldson plays in a straight bop vein, whether on up-tempo swingers or ballads. Most of the songs on the collection are standards, with a couple of fine originals from Donaldson and pianist Horace Silver spicing the mix; in particular, Silver's rollicking, Latin-tinged "Roccus" is a standout. While Donaldson's tone isn't quite as full as it would be within just five years, he impresses with his bold, speedy technique and fine phrasing. He doesn't play anything out of the ordinary, but he plays it very, very well, and his playing is enhanced by the three stellar bands that support him on these sessions. Among his fellow musicians on Quartet/Quintet/Sextet are Silver, bassist Gene Ramey, drummer Art Taylor, trumpeter Blue Mitchell, pianist Elmo Hope, and trumpeter Kenny Dorham. Everyone plays in a straight bop and hard bop tradition, contributing fine performances to a strong debut effort by Donaldson. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine, All Music Guide

Duke Ellington - The Private Collection (discs 1&2)

It blows your mind to think that this is the kind of stuff Ellington had in the vaults when he died. The Private Collection consists mainly of studio recordings Ellington produced at his own expense. The exceptions, volumes 9 and 10, are dance dates.
Volume 1 was recorded in Chicago, in 1956. Johnny Hodges had just retuned to the band and he is at his best (just listen to "Prelude to A Kiss")
Volume 2 was recorded in Chicago, 1957 and New York, 1962

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Hamiet Bluiett - Same Space

Baritone saxophonist and World Saxophone Quartet cofounder Hamiet Bluiett teamed up with Canadian-born, Brooklyn-based pianist D.D. Jackson and Senegalese percussion master Mor Thiam to create Same Space, their first release for the Canadian label Justin Time. This is an exciting but surprisingly accessible trek through a fusion of jazz/world originals. Accessibility is not normally associated with the music of Bluiett or Jackson, which typically leans toward the avant-garde. However, pigeonholing these musicians is a mistake, as apparent on Thiam's opening infectious African groove "Aseeko" followed by Jackson's gospelized ballad "Closing Melody." Bluiett's contributions are powerful but not dominating -- he is more prone to step back and let his cohorts shine, while the organized unrest of his baritone, bass clarinet, and wood flute weave in and out of the proceedings. The centerpiece to these sessions is the diversity and strength of material split between Jackson and Thiam. Same Space also serves as a tribute to the late pianist Don Pullen. Thiam was a member of Don Pullen & the African-Brazilian Connection; in fact, all three musicians played with Pullen, and Jackson was his protégé. The influence of Pullen and the combination of these artists' diverse backgrounds fuse to create a uniquely versatile music style. ~ Al Campbell

Hamiet Bluiett (vocals, baritone sax, flute, contra bass clarinet)
Mor Thiam (vocals, djembe)
D.D. Jackson (piano, keyboards)

1. Aseeko
2. Closing Melody
3. Titled-Un
4. Can't Help It
5. Peace Song
6. Jamm'd
7. Gnu Tune
8. Kasima
9. Spirit
10. Moment
11. A/B Original (Salute to the Aboriginals of the World)
12. Mon Dieu
13. Conversation

Recorded at Systems Two, Brooklyn, New York: July 20-21, 1998

Hamiet Bluiett - Makin' Whoopee: Tribute To Nat King Cole

So, listening to the second track as I'm scanning, etc., I became REALLY annoyed at the non-stop yakking from the woman on the track Route 66; if she were in a car with me, her ass would be out the window and bouncing down the highway before we ever got to Tulsa. It made no sense that she would be talking all this absolute nonsense. So I look at the booklet to at least see what tracks to avoid; and I had to laugh. Bluiett said: ""You know, I had in mind this aunt who talked all the time, never stopped. She...would...talk non-stop for eight or nine hours." At the end of the track, Bluiett is laughing and saying "Keter, can you make her stop?" Mission accomplished.

This thoroughly enjoyable album is baritone saxophonist Hamiet Bluiett's tribute to the music of the Nat King Cole Trio. Using the same spare backing of just guitar and bass as the Cole Trio, Bluiett covers familiar material from the Cole repertoire like "Sweet Lorraine," "Paper Moon," "Straighten Up and Fly Right," and even that Yuletide chestnut "Christmas Song." A rousing and inventive version of "Route 66" is augmented with percussion and improvised comic narration. This is a relaxed, unhurried effort in which the musicians take their time to explore the songs fully. Along with Keter Betts on bass and Rodney Jones and Ed Cherry on guitar, Bluiett captures the warmth and elegant simplicity of these classic Cole tunes. ~ Joel Roberts

Hamiet Bluiett (baritone sax, contrabass clarinet)
Myrrh (spoken vocals)
Rodney Jones (synthesizer, acoustic guitar)
Ed Cherry (electric guitar)
Keter Betts (bass)
Gali Sanchez (percussion)

1. Makin' Whoopee
2. Route 66
3. When I Fall In Love
4. Straighten Up And Fly Right
5. These Foolish Things
6. Paper Moon
7. Sweet Lorraine
8. Gee Baby Ain't I Good To You
9. Walkin' My Baby Back Home
10. Christmas Song

Recorded at Mapleshade Studio, Upper Marlboro, Maryland on March 5, 6 and 21, 1996

Miles Davis - Porgy And Bess

Reissued and notes by Phil Schaap, bonus tracks, 20-bit remaster - another nice Legacy edition.

Tomes are available annotating the importance of this recording. The musical and social impact of Miles Davis, his collaborative efforts with Gil Evans, and in particular their reinvention of George Gershwin's Porgy and Bess are indeed profound. However, the most efficient method of extricating the rhetoric and opining is to experience the recording. Few other musical teams would have had the ability to remain true to the undiluted spirit and multifaceted nuance of this epic work. However, no other musical teams were Miles Davis and Gil Evans. It was Evans' intimate knowledge of the composition as well as the performer that allowed him to so definitively capture the essence of both. The four dates needed to complete work on Porgy and Bess include contributions from several members of his most recent musical aggregate: Julian "Cannonball" Adderley (alto sax), Paul Chambers (bass), and Jimmy Cobb (drums). Although the focus and emphasis is squarely on Davis throughout, the contributions of the quartet on "Prayer (Oh Doctor Jesus)," "I Loves You, Porgy," and "There's a Boat That's Leaving Soon for New York" are immeasurable. They provide a delicate balance in style and, under the direction of Evans, incorporate much of the same energy and intonation here as they did to their post-bop recordings. There is infinitely more happening on Porgy and Bess, however, with much of the evidence existing in the subtle significance of the hauntingly lyrical passages from Danny Banks' (alto flute) solos, which commence on "Fishermen, Strawberry and Devil Crab." Or the emotive bass and tuba duet that runs throughout "Buzzard Song." The impeccable digital remastering and subsequent CD reissue -- which likewise applies to the Miles Davis & Gil Evans: The Complete Columbia Studio Recordings box set -- only magnifies the refulgence of Porgy and Bess. Likewise, two previously unissued performances have been appended to the original baker's dozen. No observation or collection of American jazz can be deemed complete without this recording. ~ Lindsay Planer

Miles Davis (trumpet)
Cannonball Adderley (alto sax)
Jimmy Cleveland (trombone)
Johnny Coles (trumpet)
ulius Watkins (French horn)
Frank Rehak (trombone)
Ernie Royal (trumpet)
Philly Joe Jones (drums)

1. Buzzard Song
2. Bess, You Is My Woman Now
3. Gone
4. Gone, Gone, Gone
5. Summertime
6. Oh Bess, Oh Where's My Bess
7. Prayer (Oh Doctor Jesus)
8. Fishermen, Strawberry And Devil Crab
9. My Man's Gone Now
10. It Ain't Necessarily So
11. Here Come De Honey Man
12. I Wants To Stay Here (aka I Loves You Porgy)
13. There's A Boat That's Leaving Soon For New York
14. I Loves You, Porgy (take 1, 2nd version)
15. Gone (take 4)

Art Tatum - Standards

This Black Lion release is a selection of 24 numbers that also appeared on the expanded 2 CD Standard Transcriptions. They were recorded in New York between 1935 and 1943 and are solo performances of - you guessed it - standard tunes of the period. One of the great advantages to collections like these are that they allow both beginner and long time fan a handle with which to come to terms with a performers style. Much can be learned about, say, Cecil Taylor when he plays very familiar tunes. So the Tatum reputation is formidable and these are a good way of discovering just what a profound stylist - I won't say technician, although Tatum did - he was.

"... There is also no shortage of breathtaking performances, with tour de force interpretations of Massenet's "Elegie" and the oldie "Happy Feet." The 1939 session has the most familiar material, with virtuoso performances of "Get Happy" and "Begin the Beguine," as well as a dreamy (if busy) "Over the Rainbow." ... The songs all come from the Standard Transcriptions library, and while they were made initially for broadcast purposes (and never intended for commercial issue), these tracks showcase Art Tatum at his very best." ~ Ken Dryden

Tatum, with his jaw-dropping technical facility and seemingly inexhaustible imagination, seldom visited his improvisational flights of fancy more than once or twice, despite the fact that on club dates he played the same basic group of standards night after night. So really any recording of Tatum represents a unique performance, and as the "Standards" were made in a studio environment, but initially not for public sale, their presence on the market is particularly welcome.

1. I'll Get By (As Long As I Have You)
2. Sweet Lorraine
3. Can't We Be Friends?
4. I'll Never Be The Same
5. Make Believe
6. Judy
7. Body And Soul
8. Elegy
9. Happy Feet
10. Royal Garden Blues
11. Ain't Misbehavin'
12. Stardust
13. In A Sentimental Mood
14. The Man I Love
15. Runnin' Wild
16. I Can't Get Started
17. Get Happy
18. Begin the Beguine
19. It Had To Be You
20. Humoresque
21. Hallelujah
22. Lullaby In Rhythm
23. Oh, You Crazy Moon
24. Over The Rainbow

Steve Gilmore - Silhouette (1993)

Bassist Steve Gilmore, best known for his longstanding work as a member of Phil Woods' rhythm section, leads a solid bop session with trumpeter Bryan Lynch, pianist Ted Rosenthal, guitarist Steve Brown, and drummer Jimmy Madison. Gilmore gets quite a few opportunities to solo and he makes the most of them, especially in the lyrical treatment of "Up With the Lark" and the sad ballad "Silhouette," the latter showcasing his strong bowing technique. Lynch salutes composer/trumpeter Thad Jones with his sparkling playing in Jones' "Three and One." The easygoing swinger "This Is Love" spotlights Lynch's delicious muted trumpet alternating with Brown's lyrical guitar. Alto saxophonist Mark Kirk joins the group for Red Mitchell's "Talking" and he arranged the boisterous finale, "I'm in Love With My Analyst." This CD may be somewhat hard to find, but it's worth the search. - Ken Dryden

Brian Lynch (trumpet, flugelhorn)
Mark Kirk (alto sax)
Ted Rosenthal (piano)
Steve Brown (guitar)
Steve Gilmore (bass)
Jimmy Madison (drums)
  1. Three and One
  2. Up With the Lark
  3. This Is Love
  4. Silhouette
  5. Bossa Nova 1 a.m.
  6. Pearl
  7. I'm All Alone Tonight
  8. Talking
  9. I'm in Love With My Analyst

BN LP 5007 | Erroll Garner - Overture To Dawn, Volume 1

I Hear A Rhapsody (Pt. 1 & Pt. 2)
You Were Born To Be Kissed
Overture To Dawn

These recordings are a bit of a curiosity, they were originally recorded by Baron Timme Rosenkrantz in his apartment in NYC - he owned a recording device, this allowed Erroll Garner to play and then listen back to his recordings. Rosenkrantz was never shy about licensing these recording, so they could be found on various small imprints. What you will notice is that the recording lacks the standards you'd get from the WOR or Van Gelder Studios- but regardless of this the Erroll Garner series was a good seller for Blue Note (five volumes were released).

For specific tracklistings, have a look at the excellent Jazz Discography Project

Saturday, June 13, 2009

blbs on the radio!

Don't forget! Tune in! 10 PM Montevideo time!

CX 30 Radio Nacional.

The Rough Guide To Australian Aboriginal Music

As good as the Rough Guides can be, it isn't something I'd usually post. They tend to be a bit commercial, but there aren't large numbers of CDs of this kind of stuff too readily available.

This second edition of the Rough Guide to Australian Aboriginal Music starts with a few words in a language from the north of the country, spoken by a man named Alan Maralung. Maralung goes on to perform a song of his own composition in a classical wangga style, a tight combination of didjeridu, clapsticks, and chant that goes up and down and rolls around in peaks and troughs, a dry swirl of rhythmic repetition and subtle tonal changes. Australian listeners might think back to the last time they watched the opening of a festival or the launch of a new public building, that moment near the end of the ceremony when someone comes forward and makes a speech on behalf of “the traditional owners of the land.” “Welcome to Country,” they say. Maralung’s “New Song [Part 1]” is this album’s Welcome to Country. It ushers us in. At the conclusion of the album, we hear Part 2 of the same piece. It ends with a click of the clapsticks and a murmur from the singer. Goodbye from Country, goodbye.

The music that fills the hour between Maralung’s two Parts was all recorded within the last twenty years. There are good inclusions and puzzling exclusions. Alan Dargin’s “Hitchhiker’s Nightmare”, a live recording of the didjeridu player busking to a crowd, is one of the good inclusions. When non-Aboriginal musicians borrow the didjeridu for their compositions they typically use it for its drone. Dargin’s song is a reminder that the instrument can do more than that: he has it imitate heavy traffic, the honk of a truck horn, and a conversation between a truck driver and his hitchhiking passenger. He urbanises the didjeridu on its own terms, without remixes or any non-Aboriginal instruments. He has a performer’s sense of comic timing, too—you can hear the crowd laugh with recognition at the relentlessness of the oncoming cars. Compiler Bruce Elder has dedicated the album to Dargin’s memory, and there are worse ways to be remembered than this, as a clever musician and a talented showman.

Dargin appears again, buzzing and barking through a plastic pipe, on “Fantastic Plastic”, alternating noises until it sounds as if the instrument is talking to itself in two different voices, like those cartoons in which plasticine creatures discuss their problems in wordless yet expressive mews and hoots. There are other didjeridu tracks on the album as well, all of them different, smartly picked to show off the instrument’s versatility. In addition to Dargin’s busking and Maralung’s wangga, we’ve got Tjupurru and his pounding, electronic “Stompin’ Ground”, and an airy partnership between Matthew Doyle and the shakuhachi grand master Riley Lee. There’s soothing-didj, dance-didj, busking-didj, trad-didj, and plastic-didj, which is a nice haul for an album that isn’t solely about the didjeridu.

None of these didjeridus are played by women. The didjeridu is culturally a man’s instrument, and professional female Aboriginal musicians on the whole are outnumbered by men. This uneven divide carries through onto Elder’s compilation. All of the songs are performed by men, with two exceptions. The first of them is Tiddas’ “Inanay”, which is also the album’s only example of a capella singing. Vocal harmony is the one form of music that Aboriginal women excel in while Aboriginal men do not—purely as a matter of choice, it seems, since I’ve heard a good number of men singing to guitars, or in bands, but none even attempting the kind of humming lullabye-like group-song that the three members of Tiddas pull off here.

The other track is sung by outback teenage students from a travelling rap workshop. They call themselves the Pukatja Kungkas, the malleable furriness of their Pitjantjatjara/English flow distinct from the extroversion of an American rapper. Their message is one of civic responsibility. “Sniffing petrol? No way! Fighting? No way!” And that’s it for the women. We have a song from Archie Roach but nothing from his wife Ruby Hunter, and the Torres Strait is represented by the easy charisma of Seaman Dan, but not by the Mills Sisters or Christine Anu. It’s a shame.

There’s no rock music either, which is odd, because Elder alludes to its importance in the liner notes. It played a significant role in raising the profile of Aboriginal musicians in the 1980s, when groups like the Warumpi Band and Coloured Stone began using pub rock to carry the kind of messages that today can be carried by rap songs. Respect your culture, they said, stand up for yourself, push for social equality and justice. The Warumpi Band’s “Blackfella / Whitefella” lent its name to the group’s joint tour with Midnight Oil, and “My Island Home” turned into one of the nation’s unofficial national anthems when it was recorded in 1995 by Anu. There were video clips, there was recognition, there was an Aboriginal frontman on TV looking sexy, which was, and still is, an unusual thing to see. Aboriginals on Australian television get to be a number of things, but sexy is not often one of them.

Today we have other bands working the same vein of rock (Nabarlek, for instance, and NoKTurNL), but the album never comes closer to it than the Saltwater Band’s “Djilawurr”, the gentlest, nicest bit of reggae-folk-rock you could ever hope to meet. It’s a world away from “Blackfella / Whitefella”.

The back cover promises us rapping from the Wilcannia Mob but the promotional disc that I was sent had another group in its place. When I contacted World Music Network about it they said that there had been a mistake in the initial pressing of the album, and it would be corrected in the second pressing. If you’re thinking of buying this Rough Guide for the sake of the Wilcannia Mob then I’d suggest you ask the people behind the counter to play track 12 for you before you put down your money so that you know which version you’re getting. The substitute track is a traditional piece, didjeridu and clapsticks and chanting, reminiscent of Maralung’s music but not the same. The same problem seems to have hit the seventh track, which ought to be the easygoing jangle of the Pigram Brothers on their guitars. Instead it’s a jazz mixture of didjeridu and saxophone.

The Rough Guide to Australian Aboriginal Music is the best all-around single-disc introduction to Aboriginal music available at the moment. It’s the one that covers the widest spectrum of music and gives you the most diverse and interesting range of bands to explore further. In spite of my irritation at the absence of rock and women, this is still something to get excited about. If you’ve got preconceived ideas about Aboriginal music, if you think it’s all drone and chant, or all Yothu Yindi remixes, you should come away feeling that you’ve been fruitfully challenged. ~ Deanne Sole

1. New Song, Pt. 1 - Alan Maralung
2. Djarimirri - Gurrumul Yunupingu
3. Jumbucco - Waak Waak Jungi
4. Inanay - Tiddas
5. Jamu Dreaming - Archie Roach
6. Stompin' Ground - Tjupurru
7. Moonlight - The Pigram Brothers
8. Uwa Wiya - Pukatja Kungkas
9. Fantastic Plastic - Alan Dargin
10. Djilawurr - Saltwater Band
11. Old Men & the Sea - Seaman Dan
12. Down River - The Wilcannia Mob
13. From Little Things Big Things Grow - Kev Carmody
14. Wild Honey Dreaming - Matthew Doyle, Riley Lee
15. Hitchhiker's Nightmare - Alan Dargin
16. Is This What We Deserve? - Kutcha Edwards
17. New Song, Pt. 2 - Alan Maralung

Prestige All Stars - Olio

The title is not misspelled, and the Sonny Rollins tune is not played here. (Ira Gitler made this point in the original liner notes; it’s a point still worth making.) “Olio” is an old vaudeville term meaning “medley” or “variety”, and that’s what you get in this Prestige jam session from 1957. While some do not like the looseness of jams, this one benefits from two great organizers: Mal Waldron, who could be counted on to bring ambitious tunes to his session, and Teddy Charles, producer of Prestige’s most “advanced” ‘Fifties dates. It’s Teddy’s production, and he also brings his distinctive vibes sound, giving us a different-tasting Olio.

The group is unfamiliar, but its members are not. Waldron and Doug Watkins had played on many Prestige jam sessions, Thad Jones and Frank Wess were on a 1954 date for Debut, and Charles was there with Elvin Jones on Miles' Blue Moods. With this familiarity, the sound gels early. It opens with Waldron’s “Potpourri”, which was also done by John Coltrane. The contrapuntal theme, a bit blurred on the Trane version, here stands out, with Charles playing the melody, Wess and Thad playing unison responses. Elvin explodes on the bridge; his cymbals are great and his sticks click like mad. Wess takes the first solo, and makes himself known. His flute was a little breathy on the theme, but here he asserts, stretching fluid lines. Thad is similarly active, starting warm and slowly getting brassy. Charles starts slow while the rhythm pushes on; after four bars of meditation he gets moving, his tone blunt with little vibrato. Left and right hands converse in Waldron’s solo, which is more introspective than anyone else’s. The theme returns, and again Elvin steals the show.

“Blues Without Woe” is as described, a 12-bar pattern that sounds like a piece of a larger song. Thad’s solo sticks to theme in the first chorus, then gets more adventurous. Like “Potpourri” he starts subdued with short phrases, quickly developing into long boppy lines. He stays relaxed, even in his shouts. Charles comes on quiet, his rolling patterns sounding cool and intellectual. Wess, on tenor this time, is very mellow, recalling Lester even when his solo gains energy – a controlled heat which befits this track. Waldron’s solo is a series of patterns. Walked around the chords and repeated to great effect. Elvin crashes up a storm on his first round of fours, and snares us in the second round. The horns are more energetic on the fours, and Charles plays chords for the first time. The theme is played a single time, as it was in the beginning, and the happy blues come to an end.

“Touche” is Waldron’s best tune on the album, a clever bit of call-and-response with Wess’ flute sounding especially lovely. Wess opens with a handful of twittering figures, and sends us off with a long funky line, with the slightest gutteral sound at the end. Charles’ solo is a glory to behold. He starts off cerebral, his sounds picks up heat, Charles gets animated, and when he stops the excitement is visceral. Waldron’s solo begins just before Charles’ ends, heavy chords on the left side, deft notes on the right. Wess and Thad trade fours on the close, and the last half of the theme brings us to the end.

Charles’ “Dakar” is a revelation. The famous version was recorded two months later with Coltrane and two baritones. That version was dark and mysterious; what a difference a lineup makes! Charles parallels Waldron on the rhythmic opening; the vibes make the thunderous chords lighter. The theme is stated by Wess, and Thad’s harmony part is so high and pure it sounds like a second flute. The Trane version was a smoky, busy seaport; this is a graceful lady on a distant shore. Wess opens in the lower register, playing it slow and sensual, trilling a bit as the lady beckons you closer. The second chorus is higher and cheerful; you are now beside the lady, and she does a dance for you. Charles’ solo is low and sparse; as on Blue Moods he says a lot with a few notes. Thad’s solo is warm and confident where the others were exotic; perhaps he is a visitor to this distance place. Some nice dissonant chords from Charles open Waldron’s solo, which is brittle and percussive like some of his others. This “Dakar” is a nice place to visit; Coltrane would show us its other side later.

Warm chords and soft brushes open “Embraceable You”, a feature for Thad. Charles chords with Waldron, making the comping wonderfully thick. Thad never states the theme fully; that is up to Wess’ tenor, which really sounds like Lester this time around. The sophisticated sax takes us out, with a nice descending figure at the end.

“Hello Frisco” has an involved, clustered theme in which trumpet and sax weave while Charles dances on top. Waldron’s solo is sparse, reminiscent of “Softly, As in a Morning Sunrise”; he then chords thick around Thad’s sad solo. Charles gets bluesy, with a fair bit of vibrato; it’s his best since “Touche”. Wess’ solo does a slow burn, with more aggression than his last effort. The theme closes it up, and we are left with an album that serves up varying moods, tangy tastes and varied voices. In other words, Olio. ~ John Barrett Jr.

Thad Jones (trumpet)
Mal Waldron (piano)
Frank Wess (flute, tenor sax)
Teddy Charles (vibraphone)
Doug Watkins (bass)
Elvin Jones (drums)

1. Potpourri
2. Blues Without Woe
3. Touché
4. Dakar
5. Embraceable You
6. Hello Frisco

Friday, June 12, 2009

Johnny Hodges - Triple Play

Altoist Johnny Hodges is heard in three different settings on this reissue CD. Such top swing stars as trumpeters Ray Nance, Cat Anderson and Roy Eldridge, trombonists Buster Cooper, Lawrence Brown and Benny Powell, tenors Paul Gonsalves and Jimmy Hamilton, baritonist Harry Carney, pianists Hank Jones and Jimmy Jones (the latter two sometimes together), guitarists Tiny Grimes, Les Spann and Billy Butler, bassists Milt Hinton, Aaron Bell and Joe Benjamin and drummers Gus Johnson, Rufus Jones and Oliver Jackson are heard in nonets with the great altoist. Despite the many changes in personnel, the music is pretty consistent, with basic swinging originals, blues and ballads all heard in equal proportion. As usual, Johnny Hodges ends up as the main star. ~ Scott Yanow

Johnny Hodges (alto sax)
Cat Anderson (trumpet)
Roy Eldridge (trumpet)
Paul Gonsalves (tenor sax)
Tiny Grimes (guitar)
Hank Jones (piano)
Ray Nance (cornet)
Lawrence Brown (trombone)

1. Take 'Em Off, Take 'Em Off, Pt. 1
2. Take 'Em Off, Take 'Em Off, Pt. 2
3. Nearness Of You
4. Monkey On A Limb
5. Tiny Bit Of Blues
6. For Jammers Only
7. On the Way Up
8. Big Boy Blues
9. Very Thought Of You
10. Fur Piece
11. Sir John
12. Figurine
13. C Jam Blues

The Nuclear Whales Saxophone Orchestra - Gone Fission (1992)

Armed with an arsenal of saxophones that range from the tiny sopranino to the 6 1/2 foot contrabass, the fourth album from this sextet covers a varied repertoire ranging from 17th century John Jenkins to 20th century Duke Ellington. There's very little improvisation, so it would be unfair to compare them to other more jazz-oriented saxophone ensembles, but they are quite entertaining and probably the only group that employs the entire saxophone family.

Kristen Strom (soprano, alto)
Roxtar (sopranino, soprano, alto)
Dale Mills (alto, tenor)
Art Springs (tenor, bass)
Ann Stamm Merrell (baritone)
Don Stevens (alto, contrabass)

Guest Whales:
Victor Morosco (alto)
Michael Corner (tenor)
Bill Perkins (bass)
  1. It Don't Mean a Thing, (so) Sing, Sing, Sing
  2. Summertime
  3. Song for R.C.
  4. Goin' Fishin'
  5. Lush Life
  6. Taking a Chance on Love
  7. The Immovable Do
  8. Danny Boy
  9. The Reel Jig
  10. Portals: A Prelude for Saxophones
  11. Fantasy in D, No. 1 (Five Part)
  12. Fantasy & Air, No. 1 (Six Part)
  13. Tip-Toe Thru' the Tulips With Me
  14. Stars and Stripes Forever

Art Ensemble Of Chicago - Fanfare For The Warriors

The studio Fanfare For The Warriors is one of their more finished efforts, with Mitchell's 'Nonaah' and 'Tnoona' among their most challenging original structures and Jarman's fierce title-piece delivered with real, concenttrated force. As guest, Abrams thickens the stew and acts as something of a binding force; no theatre, just hard music. ~ Penguin Guide

The compositions on this 1973 studio recording demonstrate some of the individual directions that its members brought to the Art Ensemble. Lester Bowie's "Barnyard Scuffel Shuffle" suggests a key source in the music of Charles Mingus with a kinetic mix of swing, R&B, bop, and free-jazz elements, with Joseph Jarman and Roscoe Mitchell providing great honking tenors. "Nonaah" is an intriguing early performance of a permutational composition that Mitchell has continued to recast to the present. Jarman's title piece is a driving free-jazz anthem, highlighted by the composer's blazing alto solo. Muhal Richard Abrams, a crucial early mentor, is added to the Ensemble for much of the date. His piano is a striking complement to the group, thoughtfully expanding the music's harmonic languages. ~ Stuart Broomer

The Art Ensemble of Chicago's first (and arguably most significant) period concluded with this high-quality studio session, Fanfare for the Warriors. The quintet (trumpeter Lester Bowie, Roscoe Mitchell and Joseph Jarman on reeds, bassist Malachi Favors and drummer Don Moye) provides concise but adventurous performances. High points include Mitchell's "Nonnaah," Bowie's humorous "Barnyard Scuffel Shuffle" and "Tnoona," but all of the selections have their own musical personality. It's a fine showcase for this important avant-garde unit. ~ Scott Yanow

Joseph Jarman (spoken vocals, alto and tenor sax, flute)
Roscoe Mitchell (alto, tenor and bass sax, piccolo)
Lester Bowie (trumpet, flugelhorn)
Muhal Richard Abrams (piano)
Malachi Favors (bass)
Don Moye (percussion)

1. Illistrum
2. Barnyard Scuffel Shuffel
3. Nonaah
4. Fanfare For The Warriors
5. What's To Say
6. Tnoona
7. The Key

Paragon Studios, Chicago: September 1973

Thursday, June 11, 2009

B.B. King - Live At The Regal

B.B. King is not only a timeless singer and guitarist, he's also a natural-born entertainer, and on Live at the Regal the listener is treated to an exhibition of all three of his talents. Over percolating horn hits and rolling shuffles, King treats an enthusiastic audience (at some points, they shriek after he delivers each line) to a collection of some of his greatest hits. The backing band is razor-sharp, picking up the leader's cues with almost telepathic accuracy. King's voice is rarely in this fine of form, shifting effortlessly between his falsetto and his regular range, hitting the microphone hard for gritty emphasis and backing off in moments of almost intimate tenderness. Nowhere is this more evident than at the climax of "How Blue Can You Get," where the Chicago venue threatens to explode at King's prompting. Of course, the master's guitar is all over this record, and his playing here is among the best in his long career. Displaying a jazz sensibility, King's lines are sophisticated without losing their grit. More than anything else, Live at the Regal is a textbook example of how to set up a live performance. Talking to the crowd, setting up the tunes with a vignette, King is the consummate entertainer. Live at the Regal is an absolutely necessary acquisition for fans of B.B. King or blues music in general. A high point, perhaps even the high point, for uptown blues. ~ Daniel Gioffre

Heralded as one of the greatest live blues albums ever recorded, this set catches the singer-guitarist as his star was in ascent: in 1964 playing Chicago's answer to Harlem's Apollo Theater--the Regal. King's performance is visceral. He sings so hard that gravel flies even in his clearest high notes. And his trademark single-note guitar lines are sharp and steely, matching his voice with trembling vigor. He offers early hits like "How Blue Can You Get," "Worry, Worry," and "You Upset Me Baby" to what's essentially his adopted hometown crowd (by his own account, King had already played the theater hundreds of times). They give him a hero's welcome. In fact, the audience's screaming enthusiasm is distracting. But rarely has a love-fest of this magnitude between a performer and fans been documented. ~ Ted Drozdowski

B.B. King (vocals, guitar)
Kenny Sands (trumpet)
Johnny Board (tenor sax)
Bobby Forte (tenor sax)
Duke Jethro (piano)
Leo Lauchie (bass)
Sonny Freeman (drums)

1. Every Day I Have The Blues
2. Sweet Little Angel
3. It's My Own Fault
4. How Blue Can You Get?
5. Please Love Me
6. You Upset Me Baby
7. Worry, Worry
8. Woke Up This Mornin'
9. You Done Lost Your Good Thing Now
10. Help The Poor

The Regal Theatre Chicago: November 21, 1964

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Seegs brings us ...

The Best Pianists You Never Heard…Maybe Part 4

It’s a fairly safe bet to say that almost everybody who visits or contributes to CIA regularly has heard Kirk Lightsey but not heard of him. He’s recorded in support of many name players, including Chet Baker, Dexter Gordon, David Murray, Woody Shaw, and others. His playing is uniformly excellent and often inspired, but subtle. Lightsey is not one of those pianists who tries to get as many notes as possible into a bar of music as His palette includes the colorations of hard bop, post bop, and advanced improvisational music.

Lightsey was born in Detroit and studied piano with Tommy Flanagan’s brother, Johnson Flanagan. He worked as a staff pianist with Motown Records, moved to NYC, then LA, and finally Paris. Today, Lightsey performs primarily in Europe, but gigs in the USA regularly. His most recent release was “Estate” in 2007 but is all but impossible to find. Lightsey’s itinerant nature has probably kept him from ranking with the best and most versatile jazz pianists today.

Kirk ‘n Marcus

Yanow is succinct. “Although he has gained a little more recognition in the mid-1990s, Detroit-based trumpeter Marcus Belgrave remains an often-overlooked great. For pianist Kirk Lightsey's quintet set, Belgrave is teamed with tenor saxophonist Jean Toussaint, bassist Santi DeBriano, drummer Eddie Gladden and the leader on six little known pieces; including originals by Kenny Dorham ("Windmill"), DeBriano, Toussaint and a pair from Belgrave. The modern hard bop date has plenty of fine solos and is easily recommended to straight-ahead jazz collectors.” I’d recommend it to lots of jazz listeners, not just collectors.

Kirk Lightsey piano
Marcus Belgrave trumpet
Jean Toussaint tenor sax
Santi DeBriano bass
Eddie Gladden drums

1. All My Love
2. Love I Once Knew
3. Windmill
4. Marcus’ Mates
5. Golden Legacy
6. Lower Bridge Level
7. Lolita
8. Fixed Wing

Goodbye Mr. Evans

Alexander Gelfand, an AMG reviewer, states, “With Goodbye Mr. Evans, pianist Kirk Lightsey demonstrates once again that he is one of the most seriously underappreciated artists in jazz.” Here Lightsey is a trio setting where the subtlety of his playing can be relished.

Kirk Lightsey piano
Tibor Elekes bass
Famoudou Don Moye drums

1. A New Blue
2. In Your Own Sweet Way
3. From Chopin to Chopin
4. Freedom Jazz Dance/Pinocchio/Temptation/Giant Steps
5. Four in One
6. Habiba
7. Goodbye Mr. Evans

Charles Mingus - Mingus Mingus Mingus Mingus Mingus (Flac)

Having completed what he (and many critics) regarded as his masterwork in The Black Saint and the Sinner Lady, Charles Mingus' next sessions for Impulse found him looking back over a long and fruitful career. Mingus, Mingus, Mingus, Mingus, Mingus is sort of a "greatest hits revisited" record, as the bassist revamps or tinkers with some of his best-known works. The titles are altered as well — "II B.S." is basically "Haitian Fight Song" (this is the version used in the late-'90s car commercial); "Theme for Lester Young" is "Goodbye Pork Pie Hat"; "Better Get Hit in Your Soul" adds a new ending, but just one letter to the title; "Hora Decubitus" is a growling overhaul of "E's Flat Ah's Flat Too"; and "I X Love" modifies "Nouroog," which was part of "Open Letter to Duke." There's also a cover of Duke Ellington's "Mood Indigo," leaving just one new composition, "Celia." Which naturally leads to the question: With the ostensible shortage of ideas, what exactly makes this a significant Mingus effort? The answer is that the 11-piece bands assembled here (slightly different for the two separate recording sessions) are among Mingus' finest, featuring some of the key personnel (Eric Dolphy, pianist Jaki Byard) that would make up the legendary quintet/sextet with which Mingus toured Europe in 1964. And they simply burn, blasting through versions that equal and often surpass the originals — which is, of course, no small feat. This was Mingus' last major statement for quite some time, and aside from a solo piano album and a series of live recordings from the 1964 tour, also his last album until 1970. It closes out the most productive and significant chapter of his career, and one of the most fertile, inventive hot streaks of any composer in jazz history. Steve Huey

Charles Mingus (piano, bass)
Jaki Byard (piano)
Booker Ervin (tenor saxophone)
Eric Dolphy (alto saxophone, flute)
Charles Mariano (alto saxophone)
Eddie Preston, Richard Williams, Rolf Ericson (trumpets)
Britt Woodman, Quentin Jackson (trombones)
Jerome Richardson (soprano & baritone saxophones)
Dick Hafer (tenor saxophone, flute)
Don Butterfield (tuba)
Jay Berliner (guitar)
Walter Perkins, Dannie Richmond (drums)

1 - II B.S.
2 - I X Love
3 - Celia
4 - Mood Indigo
5 - Better Get Hit in Yo' Soul
6 - Theme for Lester Young
7 - Hora Decubitus
8 - Freedom

Recorded January 20 and September 20, 1963

Johnny Griffin - Johnny Griffin's Studio Jazz Party

Griffin wanted a live album, and Riverside wanted the best possible sound – so they invited guests to the studio and let them talk as if it were a club. (Judging by the photos, Wes Montgomery might have been one of the guests.) Griffin is hot, tearing through his set with Norman Simmons at the piano and the underrated trumpeter Dave Burns. Favorites include "Good Bait" and "Toe-Tappin’". Your emcee for the evening is the singer Babs Gonzales.

This CD reissues a studio date that tenor saxophonist Johnny Griffin and his quintet (trumpeter Dave Burns, pianist Norman Simmons, bassist Vic Sproles and drummer Ben Riley) performed before an invited and enthusiastic studio audience, who provided atmosphere. Babs Gonzales introduces several of the numbers, but proves to be an unnecessary presence. However, Griffin in particular plays quite well in this loose straight-ahead setting; Burns shows that he was always a very underrated trumpeter; and the five lengthy selections are all worth hearing. The best are "Good Bait" (which is almost 12½ minutes long), "Toe-Tappin'," and "Low Gravy." ~ Scott Yanow

Johnny Griffin (tenor sax)
Norman Simmons (piano)
Dave Burns (trumpet)
Victor Sproles (bass)
Ben Riley (drums)

1. Party Time
2. Good Bait
3. There Will Never Be Another You
4. Toe-Tappin'
5. You've Changed
6. Low Gravy

Lonnie Johnson - Losing Game

Johnson recorded prolifically for Prestige's Bluesville during his early-'60s comeback; this 1960 set is a typically gorgeous solo outing that ranges from torchy standards of the Tin Pan Alley species ("What a Difference a Day Makes," "Summertime") to bluesier pursuits of his own creation. ~ Bill Dahl, All Music Guide

At the tail end of 1960 the ageless soloist recorded this attractive assortment of blues and ballads. His vocals are as rich as Godiva chocolate, and his guitar phrases glide through tempos with the ease, sophistication, and intense feeling that won him the admiration of comrades Duke Ellington, Louis Armstrong, and Victoria Spivey decades earlier. ~ Frank John Hadley 1993, from Grove Press Guide to Blues on CD
Lonnie sings and plays guitar on all tracks, except "Evil Woman", where he plays piano.

Recorded in Englewood Cliffs, NJ; December, 28, 1960. Recording Engineer: Rudy Van Gelder.
Digital remastering: 1991, Phil De Lancie (Fantasy Studios)

1. New Orleans Blues
2. My Little Kitten Susie
3. Evil Woman
4. What a Diff'rence a Day Makes
5. Moanin' Blues
6. Summertime
7. Lines in My Face
8. Losing Game
9. New Year's Blues
10. Slow and Easy
11. Four Walls and Me
12. You Won't Let Me Go

Rob McConnell - The Brass Is Back (1991)

Rob McConnell's Boss Brass had not recorded since 1986 when they made this 1991 release. The leader had spent a year living in California, teaching at the Grove School, and the band was on hiatus. That all changed in late 1990 when McConnell returned to Toronto and brought back the Boss Brass, using similar personnel as he had earlier. The first comeback record is on the same level as the Boss Brass' earlier recordings, featuring such players as guitarist Ed Bickert (on Horace Silver's "Strollin'"); saxophonists Moe Koffman, Eugene Amaro, and Rick Wilkins; and trumpeters Guido Basso (featured on "Love of My Life") and John McLeod. Standards alternate with originals (including McConnell's "Winter in Winnipeg") and obscurities. A fine big band album. - Scott Yanow

All arrangements are by Rob McConnell except for "Who Asked" which was written by Rick Wilkins and based on "What Is This Thing Called Love".

Rob McConnell (valve trombone)
Arnie Chycoski, Steve McDade, John McLeod, Guido Basso, Dave Woods (trumpet)
Ian McDougall, Bob Livingston, Jerry Johnson, Ernie Pattison (trombone)
Gary Pattison, James MacDonald (F horn)
Moe Koffman, John Johnson, Eugene Amaro, Rick Wilkins, Bob Leonard (reeds)
Don Thompson (piano)
Ed Bickert (guitar)
Steve Wallace (bass)
Terry Clarke (drums)
Brian Leonard (percussion)
  1. Strollin'
  2. All the Things You Are
  3. Love of My Life
  4. Who Asked
  5. Slow Grind
  6. Winter in Winnipeg
  7. Days Gone By
  8. Them There Eyes
Recorded in Toronto, January 28-29, 1991

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Rob Brown Trio - High Wire (1993)

This trio session was altoist Rob Brown's first as a leader. All three musicians had served time in Cecil Taylor's bands and the listener indeed gets a strong sense of the Jimmy Lyons influence here, with perhaps some Oliver Lake thrown in for good measure. In fact, if you dropped Taylor from his early-'70s band (with Lyons, Sirone, and Andrew Cyrille) and updated it by a couple of decades, you might very well come up with something approximating this disc. Brown has a liquid and linear way of phrasing that allows him to glide through the relatively free structures he's created here (all the compositions are penned by him) and even when he drives scorching to the outer limits of his horn, there's an innate lyricism that's never far below the surface. When he takes off into the ether on tracks like "Just a Touch," the results mark a high-water mark in the ecstatic jazz scene of the early '90s. Older listeners might argue that, for all its technical proficiency, the music is essentially a regurgitation, with little real advancement, of music first heard in the late '60s and early '70s, and there's certainly something to be said for this point of view. For younger listeners, however, those weaned on the experimental rock scene, the musicians in this trio and others opened many a conceptual door. Parker is a solid enough mainstay here, though one might wish for a bassist with a less muddy tone, someone (like Sirone!) more capable of punching through the storms. Krall has a precise, coloristic attack that serves well as a foil for both of his comrades. Brown shows himself in full command of his horn and if, ultimately, High Wire is more a free blowing session than an exposition of ideas (the tunes are a bit sketchy and perfunctory), it's a solid, enjoyable one that fans of the downtown New York scene will want to own. (Brian Olewnick)

1.- Hex Key
2.- Totter
3.- Revealing
4.- Just A Touch
5.- Turmoil
6.- Trickster

Rob Brown (alto saxophone); William Parker (bass); Jackson Krall (drums).

Recorded on July 22, 1993 at Tom Tedesco's Studio, N.J.

Jemeel Moondoc Sextet - Konstanze's Delight (1981)

Konstanze's Delight consists of just three long pieces, the first of them an opportunity for the whole band to show its stuff. As so often in this context, Parker is the cement, setting off on dark, seductive chant that gradually reels in Moondoc, Campbell and the underrated Jamal, who conjures up storms on this record. The two horns seem to be engaged in a game of one-on-one ball, chasing, dodging, body-checking and setting up half a dozen false climaxes before the whole thing unwinds. At longer than half an hour, it palls pretty seriously before time's up, but it's part of a live set and is doubtless pretty typical of what Moondoc was doing at the time. "Chasin' the Moon" is high-octane stuff, a starring vehicle for Jamal and Christi. (The Penguin Guide to Jazz on Cd - Ninth Edition)

1.- Konstanze's Delight
2.- Chasing the Moon
3.- High Rise

Jemeel Moondoc (alto saxophone); Roy Campbell (trumpet); Khan Jamal (vibraphone); William Parker (bass); Dennis Charles (drums); Ellen Christi (voice).

Recorded live at 3rd Street Music School, New York on October 24, 1981.

Track Of The Day

Hank Mobley - A Slice Of The Top

Review by Danny

Thanks again to Rab Hines and all the contributors on CIA for giving me an opportunity to contribute in the only way that I can.

A Slice of The Top, huh? More like a big fat slab of some serious, sixties, hard bop. Hank Mobley knew what he was doing when he asked Duke Pearson to make his mark on this set of tunes that he had written while serving some time behind bars. Brilliant solo work all around on this not-so-well-known gem but the real treat is in these tasty arrangements by Mr. Pearson and this is made clear within the first twelve seconds of the first track, Hank’s Other Bag.

Howard Johnson on tuba provides the foundation for an ascending pyramid of introduction, followed by Kiana Zawadi on euphonium, Mobley himself, James Spaulding on alto, and capped off by trumpeter, Lee Morgan. The rhythm section is fiercely held down by McCoy Tyner on piano, Bob Cranshaw on bass, and Billy Higgins on drums. Tyner takes the first solo and it is uniquely McCoy, (the Coltrane days, still alive and well in his fingers) beautifully placed within the context of some more traditional post bop settings. Mobley is up next with some ear-grabbing, opening lines, reminiscent of that jazz messenger we know and love, followed by some intense concentration on the rhythmic aspects of his playing, and ending with, perhaps, a musical sigh of disappointment in his efforts to attain some personal ideal of simplicity he felt he had not quite achieved. The liner notes mention that he had been influenced by Miles’ commodiousness. Lee Morgan (straying far from that, characteristic, sassy, bluesman, persona that graces signature albums like his own, Cornbread, and Art Blakey’s, Moanin’) fills the changes with some tell-all, crackling, chromaticism before handing it over to alto player, James Spaulding, who takes a brief moment to shine before signaling the others to finish out the tune – a valiant effort by all.

Cute ‘N Pretty, the real meat and potatoes of this album, is, ironically, not so cute and pretty. It is, rather, an intense jazz waltz of dynamic and harmonic tension and release – an epic, journeyman’s theme, suggestive of winding roads and insurmountable obstacles. This is an exceptional arrangement by Pearson – Tyner’s churning left hand, Cranshaw’s deep groove, and Johnson’s authoritative tuba provide the rumbling bottom while the melody instruments, Spaulding’s flute and Morgan’s trumpet, delicately dance above the bass line and the inner voice offered by Mobley’s tenor. It is no surprise that Morgan takes the first solo here – his struggling, popping, bending lines weaving through the vamping, minor canvas of sound. He is a master storyteller. Mobley is once again in top form, unearthing practical, elegant, pleasing melodies – his solo is one of simultaneous distress and acceptance. James Spaulding’s flute solo – a nonchalant, zigzagging, prance through the storming rhythm section – makes a fine addition to this tune, as well as McCoy Tyner’s colorful, showering, final statement before the head out.

Duke Pearson’s talents are especially highlighted on the album’s sole ballad, the standard, There’s A Lull In My Life. Morgan’s sonorous trumpet, Spaulding’s shimmering alto and flute, Cranshaw’s resonant bass, Tyner’s meditative piano, and Higgins’ wispy drum-set become Pearson’s palette of colors – and he makes profound use of his medium, creating the lush, rocking, landscape of sound – the backdrop -and it’s all Hank after that. You can imagine for yourself how this one ends.

Other highlights include Duke Pearson’s catchy arrangement of the swinging, A Touch Of The Blues and the oriental-tinged, title track, A Slice Of The Top. Pearson knew how to get the most out of this octet, really taking advantage of Howard Johnson’s tremendous skill on tuba and this group’s ability to generate a sense of depth that is usually the result of a much larger ensemble. Hank Mobley does it again on this serving of sixties, Blue Note magic so if you don’t have it, get it. It’s a real tasty slice of the hard-bop pie.

Hank Mobley (tenor sax)
Lee Morgan (trumpet)
McCoy Tyner (piano)
James Spaulding (alto sax)
Howard Johnson (tuba)
Kiane Zawadi (euphonium)
Bob Cranshaw (bass)
Billy Higgins (drums)

1. Hank's Other Bag
2. There's A Lull In My Life
3. Cute 'N Pretty
4. Touch Of Blue
5. Slice Of The Top

Oscar Peterson - 1970 Walking The Line

Despite this album's title, you'll find a lot more running than walking. Even a traditional ballad like "Windmills of Your Mind" comes roaring at you in a double-time feel. But the warm, laid-back side of Oscar is here too - check out "Once Upon a Summertime" and "I Didn't Know What Time It Was." And for some nice, straight-ahead swing, there's "Teach Me Tonight" and "All of You." "I Love You" is a great opening track, and "Rock of Ages" is a frenetic blues.
As with much of Oscar's work, you have to keep reminding yourself that you're listening to a trio, not a big ensemble. It's sometimes hard to believe that all that motion and those fully chorded solos are coming from one player with the normal number of fingers.
The most interesting arrangement on the album is "Just Friends," which moves along at a good clip, includes some nice melodic twists, and features a bowed bass solo that manages to keep the energy level up.
This is some of Oscar's finest work. If someone tries to tell you that his playing is all technique and no soul, tell them to listen again. And again. Each time, you'll pick up on more of the ingenious ideas that are flying by.
James A. Vedda - Amazon reviewer

Oscar Peterson's series of recordings for Hans Georg Brunner-Schwer during the 1960s and early '70s are one of many high points in his long career. With George "Jiri" Mraz on bass and Ray Price on drums, Peterson's flashy romp through "I Love You" (complete with a humorous detour into the opera "Pagliacci") and mid-tempo walk through "All of You" salute Cole Porter in style on Walking the Line. "Rock of Ages" isn't the old hymn but a lively, gospel-inflected Peterson original that will easily get any congregation swinging and swaying to the music. His mastery of the ballad form is heard in his sensitive interpretation of "Once Upon a Summertime," which showcases Mraz's gorgeous tone, as Price sits out this one.
Ken Dryden

01 I Love You (Porter) 5:11
02 Rock of Ages (Toplady, Hastings, Fascinato) 5:28
03 Once Upon a Summertime (Mercer, Marnay, Legrand, Barclay) 5:16
04 Just Friends (Lewis, Klenner) 3:54
05 Teach Me Tonight (Cahn, DePaul) 5:02
06 The Windmills of Your Mind (Legrand) 5:00
07 I Didn't Know What Time It Was (Rodgers, Hart) 6:34
08 All of You (Porter) 5:01

Recorded at MPS-Studio, Villigen, Germany on November 10-13, 1970

Oscar Peterson Piano
Jiri Mraz Bass
Ray Price Drums

Coleman Hawkins - The Indispensable Coleman Hawkins 1927-1956

I was hoping for a guest reviewer for this, but unfortunately ...

Drawn from Fletcher Henderson, McKinneys Cotton Pickers, Mound City Blue Blowers, Metronome All-Stars ... the players on this collection are a Who's Who of players from the first part (up 'til 1956) of the 20th Century. This set starts two years earlier than the Chronological series and effectively charts the course of the man who, almost single-handedly, made the tenor saxophone the dominant instrument in jazz.

This is an excellent compilation to have if you want a comprehensive overview of this seminal figure: it has his first classic ballad statement on "One Hour", his version of "Body and Soul" which had a profound impact on subsequent players, and it runs up to 1956 when he was still at his peak and absorbing new influences.

There is a lot of Hawkins in the archives, including at least 5 Chronos; every one of them is worth checking out.

Coleman Hawkins (tenor sax, clarinet)
Benny Carter (alto sax)
Chu Berry (tenor sax)
Henry "Red" Allen (trumpet)
Fats Waller (piano)
Charlie Christian (guitar)
Dizzy Gillespie (trumpet)
Fats Navarro (trumpet)
Max Roach (drums)
Gene Krupa (drums)

CD 1
1. St. Louis Shuffle
2. Wherever There's A Will, There's A Way (My Baby)
3. Hello, Lola
4. One Hour
5. Sugar Foot Stomp
6. Hocus Pocus
7. One Sweet Letter From You
8. Meet Doctor Foo
9. Fine Dinner
10. She's Funny That Way
11. Body And Soul
12. When Day Is Done
13. The Sheik Of Araby
14. My Blue Heaven
15. Bouncing With Bean
16. One O'clock Jump

CD 2
1. Bugle Call Rag
2. Say It Isn't So
3. Spotlite
4. Low Flame
5. Allen's Alley
6. Indian Summer
7. You Were Meant For Me
8. April In Paris
9. How Strange
10. Half Step Down, Please
11. Angel Face
12. Jumpin' Jane
13. I Love You
14. 39"-25"-39"
15. Body And Soul
16. The Essence Of You

Terry Gibbs - Swing Is Here

The title Swing Is Here would have been more appropriate for the 1930s instead of 1960 when this album was originally issued, and the big-band era had long since waned. Yet vibraphonist Terry Gibbs kept the home fires burning out in California with this exceptional orchestra of cool jazz giants playing a stack of standards and modern compositions by Bill Holman or Gibbs, and one look back with an Artie Shaw number. What is most interesting about these arrangements is that they are always different in emphasizing the fleet, dampened sound of Gibbs in contrast, apart from, or in tandem with the woodwinds and brass instruments. They also never get in each other's way, making for some delightful tonic music-making that reflects both the dance tradition and more modernized precepts of big-band music. Reflecting the style of the Count Basie band with a big helping of Woody Herman or Stan Kenton, the band leaps into "The Song Is You" as Gibbs plays the first melody line, then the band takes over, while the opposite ploy is utilized during "Dancing in the Dark." Holman's originals "Bright Eyes" and "Evil Eyes" are different from the rest and each other, the former a lively bop chart with jumping counterpoint saxes and brass, the latter led out by pianist Lou Levy and the horns, with Gibbs holding up the rear guard of the band. A 12-bar blues, "The Fat Man" has, over time, become a favorite Gibbs composition covered repeatedly by his bands, and here is the original recording. "It Might as Well Be Swing" is a cleverly modified title from the standard "It Might as Well Be Spring" but is closer to Duke Ellington's "Satin Doll" in its elegant, sophisticated imagery. Claude Debussy's "My Reverie," on the other hand, dismisses its composers early morning visage for a classic jazz sound that is truly the epitome signature style Gibbs portrays. The Artie Shaw tribute to Boston "Back Bay Shuffle" has drummer Mel Lewis codifying and extending Gene Krupa's bompity bomp rhythmic dance remarks in a danceable yet enlivened manner. There are some extraordinary musicians in the band, such as trumpeter and ostensible leader Al Porcino, "second" trumpeters Conte Candoli and Stu Williamson, trombonist Frank Rosolino (listed third on the depth chart), lead alto saxophonist Joe Maini, and Bill Perkins, and Med Flory on tenor saxes. Gibbs plays a lot on this album, a testament to his tenacity as a unique voice on his instrument, and a good example of how this well-defined music refused to die even though it fell out of favor due to sheer economics. Clocking in at under 35 minutes with no alternate takes or extra tracks, and out of print for decades prior to this CD reissue, it's a short, sweet item recommended at a bargain price. ~ Michael G. Nastos

Terry Gibbs (vibraharp)
Joe Maini (alto sax)
Bill Perkins (tenor sax)
Conte Candoli (trumpet)
Al Porcino (trumpet)
Stu Williamson (trumpet)
Jack Schwartz (baritone sax)
Frank Rosolino (trombone)
Lou Levy (piano)
Buddy Clark (bass)
Mel Lewis (drums)

1. The Song Is You
2. It Might As Well Be Swing
3. Dancing In The Dark
4. Moonglow
5. Bright Eyes
6. The Fat Man
7. My Reverie
8. Softly As In A Morning Sunrise
9. Evil Eyes
10. Back Bay Shuffle

Monday, June 8, 2009

Walt Dickerson - Life Rays (1982)

In the dynamic company of Sirone and Cyrille, Walt emerges as a particular kind of modernist, a radical-conservative. Most of the tracks are quite long, but "Good Relationship" and a titanic version of " It Ain't Necesseraly So" give the set epic dimensions. Dickerson seems to be striking harder than usual, Cyrille is faultless and the music has a strongly percussive quality. Sirone is magnificent whenever soloing, but rather anonymous in accompaniment. (The Penguin Guide to Jazz on CD - Ninth Edition)

1.- No Ordinary Man
2.- Good Relationship
3.- Life Rays
4.- It Ain't Necessarily So

Walt Dickerson (vibes); Sirone (bass); Andrew Cyrille (drums)

Recorded on February 4 & 5, 1982 at Barigozzi Studios, Milano (Italy).

Sam Rivers Winds of Manhattam - Colours (1982)

Sam Rivers, the octogenarian multi-instrumentalist and composer, has always been just outside the kind of mainstream attention that would have made him a jazz superstar. He played tenor in the Miles Davis quintet, but managed to officially only record on one album. He worked with Dizzy Gillespie, Cecil Taylor and McCoy Tyner, but seldom showed up on their recordings. With his late wife Beatrice (for whom one of jazz’s best compositions was named), Rivers opened Studio Rivbea in Manhattan in the early 1970s, and served as a mentor to generations of younger musicians. Relocated to Orlando, Florida, since 1990, Rivers continues to compose, arrange and perform.

Colours, recorded in Milan in 1982 with his group Winds of Manhattan, is demanding, occasionally discordant, sometimes dense, sometimes austere and rhythmically idiosyncratic. There is simply no “easy” way to listen to it. This is jazz meticulously arranged for an ensemble with no drummer, no bassist, no brass and no keyboard or guitar player. The entire sonic range consists of eleven saxophones and/or flutes.

“Lilacs” starts with everyone playing the theme in unison. It sounds like a bop chart, but without a rhythm section, the piece gets totally recast. Rivers burns on tenor as the band vamps behind him. The title track presents a slowly shifting melodic line, while long-tone chords hold the harmony in suspension. “Spiral” has a twisting line, one repeated phrase chasing the previous one. It’s busy, but every line is lucid. Double solos run through the piece. They’re tough to separate, but with players like Steve Coleman and Bobby Watson, all are good. “Matrix” alternates staccato bursts — baritones with baritones, sopranos with sopranos, tenors with tenors — with rich harmonic tapestry. Rivers brings out his distinctive flute playing for “Revival.” “Blossom" ends the album on an ambitious note. Without solos, lengthy and challenging, it features a rush of flutes, rhythmically restless unison phrases and the intriguing use of counterpoint. It is a most impressive piece of composing and arranging. (Charles Farrell)

1.- Lilacs
2.- Colours
3.- Spiral
4.- Matrix
5.- Revival
6.- Blossoms

Sam Rivers (soprano & tenor saxophone, flute); Marvin Blackman (soprano & tenor saxophone, flute); Talib Kibwe (soprano and tenor saxophone, clarinet, flute); Chris Roberts (soprano saxophone, flute); Steve Coleman (alto saxophone, flute); Bobby Watson (alto saxophone, flute); Nat Dixon (tenor saxophone, clarinet, flute); Bill Cody (tenor saxophone, oboe); Eddie Alex (tenor saxophone, piccolo); Jimmy Cozier (baritone saxophone, flute); Patience Higgins (baritone saxophone, flute).

Recorded on September 13, 1982 at Cine Music Studio, Milano (Italy).

Billy Taylor - Where've You Been

Yanow ain't really getting it. Most notable for...? Yes, Kennedy is a superior musician who is not often heard; or not often enough, at least. But even if he were not on this date, this is still Dr. Billy, and I would as soon listen to him as to anybody currently alive and playing.

This Concord release is most notable for featuring the obscure but talented violinist Joe Kennedy, who spent the bulk of his career teaching music in the Richmond, VA area. Teamed with pianist Billy Taylor, bassist Victor Gaskin and drummer Keith Copeland, Kennedy is the lead voice on many of the eight straightahead Taylor originals and he plays at the peak of his powers; it is a real pity that he did not record more during his career. ~ Scott Yanow

Billy Taylor (piano)
Joe Kennedy (violin)
Victor Gaskin (bass)
Keith Copeland (drums)

1. Where've You Been
2. Night Coming Tenderly
3. Ray's Tune
4. Antoinette
5. I'm In Love With You
6. All Alone
7. I Think Of You
8. Capricious

Sidney Bechet - The Complete Sidney Bechet - Volumes 1/2 (1932 - 1941)

This and two other posts are meant to supplement Rab's March post of all of the master takes. In all there will be six discs from the French Jazz Tribune series. This was a great series and I think there is an Earl Hines CD also available on this site from a few weeks ago. As with this post, discs from this series contain all of the master and alternate takes for those completists out there (you know who you are).

I would like to take this opportunity to give my opinion that RCA has done the best job of reissuing its catalgue of 20's and 30's jazz. These Jazz Tribune cds were essentially a repackaging of the Black and White LP series from French RCA. That was an amazing series. There were dozens of Duke Ellingtons, and Fats Wallers released in chronological order. Pretty much anything hot jazz related that Victor released during the 20's and 30's was reissued in this series. It is this series, as well as the Chronological Classics label which show that the French truly deserve a lot of credit for keeping this music accessible to people who live some seventy to eighty years after it was originally released. When one hears of fires in the vaults of the record labels and the loss of countless masters, we can often sleep easier knowing that efforts such as these to take the music out of the vaults and into the hands of the collector have already been accomplished.

So, without further ado, a glowing review by Scotty:

Of all the overlapping Bechet reissue series, this series of two-LP sets released by French RCA is easily the best, with all of the Victor sides by the great soprano-saxophonist and clarinetist (including the valuable alternate takes) being issued complete and in chronological order. The first two-fer is highlighted by the blazing session by The New Orleans Feetwarmers from 1932, four selections from the "Really the Blues" date with trumpeter Tommy Ladnier and clarinetist Mezz Mezzrow, and such Bechet classics as "Indian Summer," "Old Man Blues" and "Nobody Knows The Way I Feel 'Dis Mornin'." ~ Scott Yanow

Sidney Bechet (clarinet, soprano sax)
Mezz Mezzrow (clarinet, tenor sax)
Tommy Ladnier (trumpet)
Henry "Red" Allen (trumpet)
Rex Stewart (coronet)
J. C. Higginbotham (trombone)
Earl Hines (piano)
Teddy Bunn (guitar)
Kenny Clarke (drums)

Benny Goodman - Yale Recordings, Vol. 8

These lesser known swing classics are just begging for a guest reviewer; any takers? I still have a couple left to get to.

These Yale recordings are, as some of you will know or remember, from the collection of private holdings bequeathed to yale University upon Goodman's death. The critical apparatus that accompanies them, however, is far from academic; but as I noted in the last installment, where else are you going to find Goodman playing with Herbie Hancock?

This volume finds Goodman live at Basin Street in 1954. Although he had disbanded his Big Band a decade before, his 1950 release of the '38 Carnegie Hall concert had spent a year on the charts and was the best-selling jazz album ever up to that time. A follow-up release of airchecks, Benny Goodman 1937-1938: Jazz Concert No. 2, hit number one in December 1952. So he was enjoying quite a re-surgence in popularity; two years later the film version of his life was released and he began his large series of overseas tours.

This series, even though it is considered a major contribution to his catalog, is largely out of print and is avidly sought by collectors.

Benny Goodman (clarinet)
Charlie Shavers (trumpet)
Mel Powell (piano)
Steve Jordan (guitar)
Israel Crosby (bass)
Morey Feld (drums)

1. After You've Gone
2. Body And Soul
3. Nice Work If You Can Get It
4. The World Is Waiting For The Sunrise
5. Avalon
6. Dark Eyes
7. Don't Be That Way
8. How High the Moon
9. One O'Clock Jump
10. I've Found A New Baby
11. On the Sunny Side Of The Street
12. Runnin' Wild
13. Liza
14. Exactly Like You
15. Someday, Sweetheart
16. China Boy
17. Piano Interlude
18. Our Love Is Here To Stay
19. That's A-Plenty

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Don Cherry - The Complete Mu

This one never fails to astonish and delight. Don moves between trumpet, piano, various flutes and singing. The diversity of idiom establishes an agenda for later, multi-cultural projects, both Cherry's own and a whole raft of so-called world music. His range is astonishing, everything from bright New Orleans vamps and marches to African songs, folksy Americana to totally free passages. Blackwell is the most sympathetic of accompanists. He delivers crisp, ringing lines with a minimum of fuss, but it is his musicality that impresses.

There are a couple of nods along the way to Dollar Brand (Abdullah Ibrahim) and the African roots jazz he pioneered. But the conception is essentially Cherry's, a bold, sweeping synthesis that was hinted at in those remarkable, revolutionary encounters with Ornette Coleman (the trumpeter's role is still undersung) but which is only made explicit here. Though it can sound bitty and tentative in some regards, Mu is an astonishing experience and a key modern recording. ~ Penguin Guide

This classic pair of recordings, reissued as a single CD, captures Don Cherry near the height of his global quest to absorb as much music as possible from different cultures and funnel it back through his jazz sensibility. It's one of the earliest, and most successful, experiments in what would later come to be known as world music. He wisely chose his fellow Ornette Coleman cohort Ed Blackwell -- a drummer steeped in the traditions of New Orleans, African music, and free jazz -- for his partner. Despite his reputation as a trumpeter, Cherry spends a great deal of time here on piano, flutes, and vocals. His piano playing, while relatively simple, is fluid and melodic, owing a good deal to Abdullah Ibrahim (who is represented here with a couple of his themes). Likewise, his singing -- heavily influenced by Indian karnatic song -- is endearingly bright, heartfelt, and lovely. But, above all, his trumpet playing is stellar. When Cherry hits his ringing, clarion passages, he projects a purity of sound that few other trumpeters could match. Blackwell matches him sound for sound, with rolling West African-derived rhythms, Basin Street marches, and the most overtly musical tone of any drummer this side of Max Roach. The Mu sessions have long held legendary status and it's not difficult to hear why. Highly recommended. ~ Brian Olewnick

Don Cherry (vocals, trumpet, flute, piano, percussion, bells)
Ed Blackwell (drums, percussion, bells)

1. Brilliant Action
2. Amejelo
3. Total Vibration
4. Sun Of The East
5. Terrestrial Beings

6. Mysticism Of My Sound
7. Medley:
a) Dollar Brand
b) Spontaneous Composing
c) Exert, Man On The Moon
8. Bamboo Night
9. Teo-Teo Can
10. Smiling Faces, Going Places
11. Psycho Drama
12. Medley:
a) Theme: Albert Heath
b) Theme: Dollar Brand
c) Babyrest, Time for..

Studio Saravah, Paris: August 22, 1969

Track Of The Day

Aretha Franklin - Live At Fillmore West

A re-release that really gets it right: the first CD is the original album just as you remember it (and played the shit out of), and the second CD is comprised of alternates and unused tracks taken from the limited and now OOP Don’t Fight the Feeling.

One of the most anticipated and ultimately satisfying run of shows ever to occur on the Fillmore West stage occurred in March of 1971, when Bill Graham presented three consecutive nights featuring Tower of Power, King Curtis, and Aretha Franklin. Immortalized in part on the album Aretha Live at Fillmore West, these performances became a landmark event that played a significant role in Franklin reaching beyond the loyal black audiences that already knew of her incredible talent. Pulling off these shows was not an easy task, but thanks in large part to the vision of Jerry Wexler, who had signed Franklin and produced her studio recordings, the challenging logistics were overcome, but not without some trepidation. First, Fillmore West was a much smaller venue that could not accommodate the size audience required to guarantee Franklin's performing fee at the time. This was overcome with the solution of recording a live album to offset the financial arrangements. Additionally, Franklin had been touring with a traditional show band for years, but Wexler wanted to use an entirely different group for these performances, utilizing top session musicians, including those that had played on Franklin's studio recordings. There were also serious concerns about how Franklin would be received by the primarily white hippie audience that frequented Fillmore West.

Wexler persuaded Franklin to work with King Curtis and the Kingpins, which featured one of the greatest rhythm sections on the planet. Led by Curtis Owsley, whose soulful sax had been prominently featured on Franklin's earlier studio sessions for Atlantic, his Kingpins included a dream team of musicians that featured Cornell Dupree on guitar, Jerry Jemmott on bass, Bernard Purdie on drums, Truman Thomas on electric piano, and Pancho Morales on congas. They additionally recruited the up and coming organist Billy Preston, already a veteran of countless sessions, including The Beatles Let It Be album sessions. To give the ensemble the additional punch required to match Franklin's intimidating vocal power, the legendary Memphis Horns were also recruited, along with the Sweethearts Of Soul (Pat Smith and Aretha's cousins, Margaret Branch and Brenda Bryant) on background vocals. Aretha Franklin was totally in her prime as America’s Queen of Soul when this recording was made in 1971 at San Francisco’s legendary Fillmore West auditorium. Franklin, who had already captured the hearts and minds of young, black America, was eager to break out to a new, mainstream white audience, who had embraced her hit singles, but not really delved deeper into her musical repertoire.

The album, Aretha Franklin at the Fillmore West released shortly after she performed this and the other two shows, was a doctored recap of her three-night stand that failed to capture the pure electricity of these shows. In 2007 Rhino Records released all three shows in one brilliant CD collection entitled Don’t Fight the Feeling: The Complete Aretha Franklin & King Curtis Live at the Fillmore West. However, that release was limited to 5,000 copies and is now out of print.

This performance, played on the third night of the run, March 7th, 1971, features a kick-ass combination of the King Curtis Kingpins band and The Memphis Horns, and is probably the best of the six performances Franklin gave. She opens, ironically, with the song that she often closed her shows with, "Respect," written by the late Otis Redding. There are hot versions of her other hits, such as "Call Me,” "Don’t Play That Song,” and "Spirit In The Dark,” performed here with Ray Charles. She also does a bevy of soulful covers including Stephen Stills’ "Love The One You’re With,” Bread’s "Make It With You,” a stinging version of The Beatles’ "Eleanor Rigby,” and "Bridge Over Troubled Water,” which was then a hit for Simon & Garfunkel.

Franklin, who was Atlantic’s answer to the Motown sensation, actually closes with a pair of Motown classics: "You’re All I Need To Get By” and "Reach Out And (Touch Somebody’s Hand),” which she absolutely crushes in comparison to the Diana Ross version.

Give this recording a solid listen and you’ll understand what R-E-S-P-E-C-T is all about.

Aretha Franklin (vocals, electric piano)
Ray Charles (vocals, electric piano)
King Curtis (soprano and tenor sax)
Billy Preston (organ)

The Memphis Horns
Andrew Love (tenor sax)
Lou Collins (tenor sax)
Jimmy Mitchell (baritone sax)
Wayne Jackson (trumpet)
Roger Hopps (trumpet)
Jack Hale (trombone)

The Kingpins
Cornell Dupree (guitar)
Truman Thomas (electric piano)
Jerry Jemmott (bass)
Bernard Purdie (drums)
Pancho Morales (congas)

The Sweethearts Of Soul
Margaret Branch (vocals)
Brenda Bryant (vocals)
Pat Smith (vocals)

CD 1
1. Respect
2. Love The One You're With
3. Bridge Over Troubled Water
4. Eleanor Rigby
5. Make It With You
6. Don't Play That Song
7. Dr. Feelgood
8. Spirit In The Dark
9. Spirit In The Dark (with Ray Charles) (Reprise)
10. Reach Out And Touch

CD 2
1. Respect
2. Call Me
3. Mixed-Up Girl
4. Love The One You're With
5. Bridge Over Troubled Water
6. Share Your Love With Me
7. Eleanor Rigby
8. Make It With You
9. You're All I Need To Get By
10. Don't Play That Song (You Lied)
11. Dr. Feelgood
12. Spirit In The Dark
13. Spirit In The Dark (Reprise)

Fillmore West, San Francisco, California: February 5 and 7, 1971

Charlie Barnet - Swell & Super (1949)

The performances on this CD were taken from live remotes at the Steel Pier in Atlantic City, the Rendezvous Ballroom at Balboa Beach, CA and the Apollo Theater in NYC. This short-lived '49 bebop band was arguably the most talented group that Charlie Barnet ever had, especially the trumpet section which was one of the best assembled for any band.

Although the lo-fi sound is typical of radio broadcasts in this era, the quality of the music is outstanding. Most of the charts are by Manny Albam, with Pete Rugulo, Tiny Kahn, David Matthews and Andy Gibson also contributing. Perhaps the most striking tune is Dennis Farnon's arrangement of "All the Things You Are", which was a solo feature for newcomer Maynard Ferguson. It was so radical that Jerome Kern's estate had it taken off the air and pulled from the shelves.

As good as this band was, they weren't very popular with the dancers and soon broke up after the Apollo engagement.

Charlie Barnet (alto, tenor, soprano sax)
Maynard Ferguson, Ray Wetzel, Doc Severinsen, John Howell, Rolf Ericson (trumpet)
Dick Kenney, Bob Burgess, Obie Massingill, Kent Larson (trombone)
Vinnie Dean, Ruben Leon (alto sax)
Dick Hafer, Kurt Bloom (tenor sax)
Danny Bank, Manny Albam (baritone sax)
Claude Williamson (piano)
Eddie Safranski (bass)
Tiny Kahn (drums)
Carlos Vidal (congas)
Buddy Stewart (vocals on 3)
  1. Lemon Drop
  2. Portrait of Edward Kennedy Ellington
  3. Bebop Spoken Here
  4. All the Things You Are
  5. Balboa (Bop City)
  6. Durango
  7. Lord Nelson
  8. Lonely Street
  9. T-Bone for Two
  10. Raffles
  11. Chas Me Blues
  12. Swell & Super

BN LP 5006 | James Moody - and His Modernists

James Moody and His Modernists with Chano Pozo

Tin Tin Deo
Oh Henry
Mood's All Frantic

The Fuller Bop Man

For specific tracklistings, have a look at the excellent Jazz Discography Project

Saturday, June 6, 2009

John Surman

John Surman - Coruscating

In John Surman's wildly diverse recorded catalog, two things remain constant: his dedication to finding the players he wants and getting the sonic atmosphere he needs to accomplish his musical ideas. There are few players and/or composers whose record is as consistent or as prolific as Surman's. John Zorn may be as diverse, but he's got a long way to go to match Surman's recorded output. Surman is one of those artists who is the creative musician ECM is named for. His career can be categorized according to the definition of this album's title, "flashing brightly." On Coruscating Surman assembles a string quartet, a bassist, and his own array of saxophones and clarinets to embark upon a journey that texturally resembles a suite, but is actually a series of compositions by Surman of settings for strings and soloists. The atmospheric backdrop that the string quartet drapes the scene with is chilling in its beauty. Bassist Chris Laurence and Surman are soloists in another world, full of color, balance, and harmonic space. That said, there are two pieces on the record written strictly for strings and bass where Surman doesn't appear at all. On "Stone Flower," a tribute to the late baritone saxophonist Harry Carney, Surman bleeds the opening with the strings playing glissandi and states a minimal melodic theme before allowing Laurence to move into this space and paint it with a deeply moving and melodically intricate bass solo. Surman's own solo restates the theme twice (sounding like something out of 1940s Hollywood — Charlie Haden eat your heart out) before reaching into Carney's fake book for a phraseology that is equal parts his own and the late musician's — particularly in the glides to the lower register of the baritone. Harmonically, the tune is simple enough, but Surman stretches it in the upper register while crossing lines with Laurence. It's not dissonant, but it isn't consonant either. Rather, as Jackie McLean would say, there exists here "a fickle sonance." There is "out" baritone sax play on the album, however, as "The Illusive Shadow," originally commissioned by a dance company, moves modally to juxtapose itself against a series of tone rows by the string section. The notes and phrases are minimal, but there are microphonics coming from both the horn and the two violins, underscored deeply by Laurence. It feels as if the notes have disappeared altogether into an ether of silence and resonant harmonics. As the work progresses, there are serial tone rows asserting themselves before giving way to pastoral washes of color and nuance. "Winding Passages" is an illustrative work that feels very close in its beginning to Vaughan Williams in its layering of the string quartet's individual harmonic cadences; viola and cello assert themselves in counterpoint and are closely followed in unison by the violins. It changes quickly, however, upon the entrance of Surman's bass clarinet and Laurence's pizzicato style. The minor-key, shaded trade-off with the strings presents a problem of intervallic irresolution, but it's covered by the bass clarinet which fluidly binds both ends together in a gorgeous cadenza that scales the strings and offers an open mode for Laurence. It's simply brilliant in its modern classicism — a la Britten, Williams, and even Dvorak in places — and still so full of Gil Evans elegance in its jazz-like architecture, where tempos and changes occur seamlessly and without warning according to space and color. Coruscating is one of the finer moments in an already stellar career. Coruscating's mood and timbre is delicate, mysterious, and gentle, but its musical reach is muscular and wide. Thom Jurek

John Surman (soprano and baritone sax, bass and contrabass clarinets)
Chris Laurence (bass)
Rita Manning (violin)
Keith Pascoe (violin)
Bill Hawkes (viola)
Nick Cooper (cello)

1.At Dusk
2.Dark Corners
3.Stone Flower
4.Moonless Midnight
5.Winding Passages
6.An Illusive Shadow
7.Crystal Walls
8.For The Moment

Recorded at CTS Studios, London in January 1999

John Surman - John Surman

"Avant-reedist John Surman's self-titled Deram debut straddles the past and future of British jazz. Recorded in collaboration with altoist Mike Osborne, bassist Harry Miller and pianist Russell Henderson, the disc's first half comprises four succinct workouts that channel the Caribbean textures and rhythms so influential on the evolution of Britain's postwar musical culture — Surman's potent baritone is kept in check here, and while the performances pulsate with warmth and energy, their straight-ahead approach proves much too limiting. Which makes the second half of John Surman that much more radical — a sidelong, three-part suite recorded with jazz-rock titans including trumpeter Harry Beckett, bassist Dave Holland and trombonist Paul Rutherford, the music erupts with invention and passion, exploring the deepest reaches of sound but never lapsing into self-indulgence." Jason Ankeny

John Surman (baritone sax)
Mike Osborne (alto sax)
Kenny Wheeler (trumpet, flugelhorn)
Paul Rutherford, Malcolm Griffiths (trombone)
Russ Henderson (piano)
Dave Holland, Harry Miller (bass)
Alan Jackson, Stirling Betancourt (drums)
Errol Phillips (conga)

1. Obeah Wedding
2. My Pussin'
3. Good Times Will Come Again
4. Carnival
5. Incantation
6. Episode
7. Dance

August 12 and 14 1968

Lou Donaldson - Sunny Side Up

Sunny Side Up is closer to hard bop than the straight-ahead bop that characterized Lou Donaldson's '50s Blue Note records. There's a bit more soul to the songs here, which pianist Horace Parlan helps emphasize with his lightly swinging grooves. The pair help lead the group -- which also features trumpeter Bill Hardman, drummer Al Harewood and bassist Sam Jones (Laymon Jackson plays bass on two of the eight songs) -- through a mellow set of standards and bluesy originals from Donaldson and Parlan. Even the uptempo numbers sound relaxed, never fiery. Despite the general smoothness of the session, Donaldson stumbles a little -- the quotation of "Flight of the Bumblebee" on "Blues for J.P." is awkward, as is the snippet of "Pop Goes the Weasel" on "Politely," and "Way Down Upon the Swanee River" sounds lazy -- but there's enough solid material to make Sunny Side Up a worthwhile listen for fans of Donaldson and early-'60s hard bop. Stephen Thomas Erlewine

Lou Donaldson (alto sax)
Bill Hardman (trumpet)
Horace Parlan (piano)
Sam Jones (bass)
Laymon Jackson (bass)
Al Harewood (drums)

1. Blues For J.P.
2. The Man I Love
3. Politely
4. It's You Or No One
5. The Truth
6. Goose Grease
7. Softly As In A Morning Sunrise
8. Way Down Upon The Swanee River

Recorded in Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey on February 5 and 28, 1960

Reviewed by Jer.Eps

Review by Jer.Eps

For me, Joe Cocker and Janis Joplin are two peas in a pod. Both came to the fore as part of the 60's hippie culture's dynamic transformation of the live music scene, and both have always been lumped into that era's "classic rock" bag. But I think both saw themselves as white soul artists and indeed distinguished themselves as two of the most successful white soul performers of the '60's. Both had electric, hellbent-for-leather performance styles, both had voices with some weak spots - and each of them exploited the flaws in their less-than-perfect instruments for a strong emotional wallop. To my ears, both Joe Cocker and Janis Joplin adopted the intensity and power of classic, gospel-derived soul singing and upped the octane with a bit of rock volume and crunch.

Joe Cocker's spastic stage histrionics were widely seen, featured as they were in the famous Woodstock movie made at the seminal festival. Subsequently John Belushi jumpstarted his comedy career by making fun of Cocker. A rather funny video updates this long tradition of goofing on Joe Cocker At Woodstock here:


Our two albums provide us a chance to compare these intense singers at their peaks. The Janis Joplin album, "Winterland 1968," gives a time-capsule glimpse of what prime psychedelic soul sounded like live, and both Janis and her band Big Brother and The Holding Company are at the top of their game. Most of their efforts at igniting excitement pay off, and so do their shifts into a "down" gear. There is a bit of 60's guitar rave-up in the mix, and by and large all of it gets pulled off quite nicely.

Joe Cocker gives a self-assured and commanding performance on "Something To Say," a rare 1973 album that did not get as much original notice nor have as long a shelf life as his more popular material. But it sounds every bit as passionate and fully-realized as his better-known work. And the album makes profitable use of the opportunity to take more control in a studio setting. A full soul band with horns is featured on some tracks while others are more mellow, guitar-based arrangements. Joe is tender and powerful throughout, and the song choices are excellent overall too.

Both our albums today have strong kicks and plenty of heartfelt emotion. Enjoy!

Janis Joplin with Big Brother & The Holding Co - Winterland 1968

1. Down on Me
2. Flower in the Sun
3. I Need a Man to Love
4. Bye Bye Baby
5. Easy Rider
6. Combination of the Two
7. Farewell Song
8. Piece of My Heart
9. Catch Me Daddy
10. Magic of Love
11. Summertime
12. Light Is Faster Than Sound
13. Ball and Chain
14. Down on Me

Joe Cocker - Something To Say

Joe Cocker (vocal)
Chris Stainton (piano, organ)
Neil Hubbard (guitar)
Jim Keltner (drums)
Alan White (drums)
Felix Falcon (Papalardi?) (percussion)
Reebop (congas)

1. Pardon Me Sir
2. High Time We Went
3. She Don't Mind
4. Black-Eyed Blues
5. Something to Say
6. Night Rider
7. Do Right Woman, Do Right Man
8. Woman to Woman
9. St. James Infirmary

Track Of The Day

Paul Bley - Touching

With the exception of a lengthy version of "Blood" (which is from a year later and has bassist Mark Levinson), this Paul Bley reissue CD features the pianist with bassist Ken Carter and drummer Barry Altschul in 1965. "Pablo" is a free improvisation but otherwise the compositions (by Bley, his wife at the time Carla Bley and Annette Peacock) contrast thoughtful moments with fiery group interaction. Although not all that memorable, the playing by the trio is at a high level and it is interesting to hear Paul Bley's mid-'60s avant-garde improvising style which offered a contrast to the more dense playing of Cecil Taylor. ~ Scott Yanow

Paul Bley (piano)
Kent Carter (bass)
Mark Levinson (bass)
Barry Altschul (drums)

1. Start
2. Cartoon
3. Touching
4. Mazatlan
5. Both
6. Pablo
7. Closer
8. Blood

Copenhagen: November 5, 1965

Art Blakey All Star Jazz Messengers - Aurex Jazz Festival '83

Blakey had been part of the Aurex Jazz Festival in Tokyo for three years at the time of this recording. Previously he had been part of All Star presentations there, but by this time he had his own Jazz Messenger All Star lineup, one that he made various appearances with and which changed slightly - mostly the trumpet seat - appearance to appearance.

I'm not sure of the recording information with this later stuff: this was originally released on East World Jazz label, but this TOCJ is, naturally, a Toshiba EMI production but it is issued under the somethin'else label. As such it is only one of two Blakey albums from '83. The next year was equally sparse but '85 saw a number of Blakey releases. By then Buhaina was 67 years old, and anybody who saw him around that time will tell you that he was still a force.

The notes are fairly extensive - I think: they're all in Japanese, and there's a listing of seventeen somethin'else TOCJ's, but again, they're all in Japanese. Anybody that wants to translate will gain our thanks.

Art Blakey (drums)
Curtis Fuller (trombone)
Benny Golson (tenor sax)
Terence Blanchard (trumpet)
Wynton Marsalis (trumpet)
Johnny O'Neal (piano)
Lonnie Plaxico (bass)

1. Whisper Not
2. Along Came Betty
3. Moanin'
4. I Remember Clifford

"Aurex Jazz Festival", Tokyo, Japan: September 2, 1983

Allen Vizzutti (1979)

Equally at home in a multitude of idioms, Allen Vizzutti is one of the best all-round trumpet players in the world. After attending the Eastman School of Music he joined the Woody Herman Band in 1976 and recorded four albums over the next two years before leaving to join Chick Corea and enjoy life as a first-call studio musician in Los Angeles. It was during his tenure with Corea in 1979 that this self-titled album was made and then released on LP in 1981 by Headfirst Records. Along with this initial CD there was also a reissue in 1992 that was released as Skyrocket.

Vizzutti has since enjoyed world-wide recognition as both trumpet player and composer. He has performed on over 100 motion picture soundtracks and has traveled to 40 different countries and all US states to perform his own compositions as both a jazz and classical artist, often in the same evening.

The band on this CD was essentially Chick Corea's working group at the time with the addition of Grant Geisman on guitar and a string orchestra on some tracks. All compositions and arrangements are by Allen Vizzutti.

Allen Vizzutti (trumpet, flugelhorn, piccolo trumpet, F horn)
Joe Farrell (tenor sax)
Harold Garrett (trombone, bass trombone)
Chick Corea (keyboards)
Grant Geisman (guitar)
Bunny Brunel (bass)
Tom Brechtlein (drums)
String Orchestra
  1. In the Pocket
  2. Everything's Going to Be Alright
  3. Zig Zag
  4. Aries Eyes
  5. Sunflower Fields
  6. Down at Sunset Sound
  7. Skyrocket

Andrew Hill - Live At Montreux

1975 saw the release of four recordings and one radio broadcast; all were done within the New York area except for this solo Montreux date. This release has a few minor discographical issues (song sequence, title differences) but is the entire Montreux set from the period that produced Spiral, Hommage, and Blue Black. A very under-represented, although creative, time in Hill's career.

"... his first solo recordings Hommage and Live At Montreux, both from 1975, came as a surprise to even his most die-hard fans. Those experiences whetted his appetite for more." They led to the performances collected in the Andrew Hill Solo Mosaic Select; it's been previously posted and the links are still alive.

Andrew Hill hadn't been recording much for a few years by the time of this 1975 concert at the Montreux Jazz Festival, and one wonders why while listening to this very entertaining solo performance. His jagged, jaunty, and often humorous "Snake Hip Waltz" proves to be a captivating opener, never losing steam during its 11-plus minutes. On the other hand, "Nefertisis" is almost dirge-like by comparison, though just as intriguing. Unfortunately, the last two tracks have their titles switched, so the nearly 18-minute abstract piece is actually Hill's "Relativity," while the relatively brief (at just under five minutes) final song is Duke Ellington's "Come Sunday"; although this interpretation has its wild side and broken rhythms at times, the pianist is true to the gospel flavor of the composer's original composition. This very enjoyable CD may be somewhat difficult to find due to the erratic availability of Freedom releases. ~ Ken Dryden

Andrew Hill (piano)

1. Snake Hip Waltz
2. Nefertisis
3. Come Sunday
4. Relativity

Friday, June 5, 2009

Charles Mingus - Right Now: Live At The Jazz Workshop

Soon after Charles Mingus finished touring Europe with his band (the unit that featured Eric Dolphy), he recorded this CD, performed live at The Jazz Workshop in San Francisco. With tenor-saxophonist Clifford Jordan and drummer Dannie Richmond still in the group but Jane Getz replacing pianist Jaki Byard and altoist John Handy filling in for Dolphy on one song, the band performs excellent versions of "Meditations on Integration" and "New Fables," both of which are over 23 minutes long. Although not up to the passionate level of the Mingus-Dolphy Quintet, this underrated unit holds its own. ~ Scott Yanow

Much has been made of Mingus' 1960s Workshop sessions. Workshop concerts placed a premium on experimentation and featured a changing roster of musicians, compositions, arrangements and approaches in an informal, yet musically rigorous and highly adventurous atmosphere. Right Now is a recording of one such concert (taped in San Francisco in 1964 at a club called, oddly enough, the Jazz Workshop) and gives a strong sense of what these events were like.

Including two lengthy pieces: "New Fables" and "Meditation (For A Pair Of Wire Cutters)," the disc captures Mingus exploring, almost in collage-style, improvised musical ideas, radically shifting tempos, passages of fragmented melody, cacophony and tight thematic interactivity. Joined by powerhouse drummer Dannie Richmond, tenor saxman Clifford Jordan (whose fiery solo on "Fables" is particularly noteworthy), pianist Jane Getz and John Handy on alto sax, Mingus covers the bottom (and middle and top) with his extraordinary bass playing. An almost hour-long landscape of sophisticated, exploratory jazz compositions, Right Now is valuable as both a historical document and a musical adventure.

Charles Mingus (bass)
Clifford Jordan (tenor sax)
John Handy (alto sax)
Jane Getz (piano)
Dannie Richmond (drums)

1. New Fables
2. Meditation (For A Pair Of Wire Cutters)

Jazz Workshop, San Francisco, California: June 2-3, 1964

Track Of The Day

blbs on the Radio!

One of our own friends will be initiating and broadcasting his own regular Radio show which will be available to internet listeners.

The show will be first broadcast this Saturday, June 6, at " 22 hs., Uruguayan hour". Being an American, I am wholly ignorant of what that means. I believe it means 10PM Montevideo time: I am willing to be corrected.

Here is the link to listen in direct: www.la30.com.uy/index.asp, and an e-mail address is in the Comments section.

blbs on the Radio!

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Don Patterson - Boppin' & Burnin' (1968)

Although organist Don Patterson is the leader of this set that in 1998 was reissued on a CD, the quintet date is most notable for the playing of trumpeter Howard McGhee. McGhee, who had not been heard from much on record for a few years, proves to still be in prime form. Altoist Charles McPherson, the young guitarist Pat Martino and drummer Billy James complete the group. The repertoire is particularly strong with two McGhee originals (including the memorable and haunting "Island Fantasy"), "Epistrophy," "Now's The Time" and a trumpet feature on "Donna Lee." Highly recommended. (Scott Yanow)

1. Pisces Soul
2. Donna Lee
3. Island Fantasy
4. Epistrophy
5. Now's the Time

Don Patterson (Hammond B-3 organ); Charles McPerson (alto saxophone, except #2); Howard McGhee (trumpet); Pat Martino (guitar); Billy James (drums).

Recorded in Englewood Cliffs, NJ, on February 22, 1968.

Mal Waldron Quintet with Steve Lacy - One-Upmanship

Over twenty years after its first release, One-Upmanship appears for the first time on compact disc, and it is a most welcome reappearance. The appearance of any recording by Mal Waldron should be a cause for celebration, but this one is particularly special for a number of reasons. Not only is Waldron joined by his longtime duo partner, soprano saxophonist Steve Lacy, but by three other performers with a keen simpatico: trumpeter Manfred Schoof, bassist Jimmy Woode, and drummer Makaya Ntshoko. The playing of each of these men, including Waldron, on One-Upmanship should alone be enough to give them unsung hero status.

As if that weren't enough, on this CD reissue three solo piano tracks have been added: “Duquility,” “Thoughtful,” and Waldron's most famous tune, “Soul Eyes.” Waldron has recorded solo infrequently, and yet always brilliantly, so these are a treat. Since his late Fifties stint as Billie Holiday's pianist, and his recordings in those days with John Coltrane and Eric Dolphy, Waldron's piano style has matured and evolved into a compact, highly dramatic form that should rank him with the best jazz pianists of the last forty years. These three performances illustrate that abundantly. He can drive as hard as McCoy Tyner or even Cecil Taylor, yet can spin melodic figures with all the gossamer of Bill Evans. He has been called unmelodic, a charge I think unjustified. He does tend to work small melodic cells until they transmute into new ones: a hypnotic tension-building effect that gives his playing a particular dynamic power.

Aside from the solo numbers, this set includes the multifaceted title track, the delicate “Seagulls of Kristiansund,” and the rousing “Hooray for Herbie.” Lacy plays with emotional restraint wrapped in breathtaking virtuosity, as in his extended upper-upper-register fadeout on “Seagulls.” Schoof sets him off with ferociously fluent solos at the opposite end of the emotional spectrum. And Mal Waldron - well! There is a point where words fail.

Absolutely first-rate jazz. Highly, highly recommended. ~ Robert Spencer

Mal Waldron (piano)
Steve Lacy (soprano sax)
Manfred Schoof (trumpet)
Jimmy Woode (bass)
Makaya Ntshoko (drums)

1 - One-Upmanship
2 - Duquility
3 - The Seagulls of Kristiansund
4 - Thoughtful
5 - Hooray For Herbie
6 - Soul Eyes

Recorded at Conny's Studio, Wolperath on February 12, 1977 and Tonstudio Bauer, Ludwigsburg, Germany

Scott Hamilton - Tenorshoes (1979)

Scott Hamilton is a player in the Zoot Sims, Al Cohn, Lester Young tradition. He may not be an "innovator" or a groundbreaking soloist but he has been a steady standard bearer of this traditional, straight ahead style of jazz for over thirty years. I have been a fan since the early 80's and I can honestly say that Hamilton has never disappointed me on his recordings. They are consistent, enjoyable, and above all, highly musical. Scoredaddy

Tenor saxophonist Scott Hamilton (who can be overly relaxed and comfortable at times) often sounds at his most heated when playing with pianist Dave McKenna, and all of their collaborations are easily recommended. This Hamilton-McKenna effort with bassist Phil Flanigan and drummer Jeff Hamilton mostly emphasizes ballads (although sometimes at medium tempos), plus a cooking version of "How High the Moon" and Hamilton's original "O.K." A typically swinging and consistent Scott Hamilton record which has been reissued on CD. Scott Yanow

Scott Hamilton (tenor saxophone)
Dave McKenna (piano)
Phil Flanigan (bass)
Jeff Hamilton (drums)

1 I Should Care (Cahn, Stordahl, Weston) 4:46
2 Falling in Love With Love (Hart, Rodgers) 4:34
3 The Shadow of Your Smile (Mandel, Webster) 6:35
4 The Nearness of You (Carmichael, Washington) 5:23
5 How High the Moon (Hamilton, Lewis) 4:46
6 Our Delight (Dameron) 5:34
7 My Foolish Heart (Washington, Young) 6:06
8 O.K. (Hamilton) 4:11

Recorded at Coast Recorders, San Francisco, California in December 1979

Joe Morello - Joe Morello

Give the drummer some, indeed. This Bluebird compilation is - as far as I can tell - a combination of his It's About Time and an unreleased work from the same 1961-1962 time period. Here is a Yanowreview of the former:

"In 1961, Joe Morello, drummer with the Dave Brubeck Quartet for the past six years (with six more years to go), received an opportunity to lead his own album. It's About Time featured ten songs with the word "time" in their title. Of these, five of the six quintet selections (starring Phil Woods and a young Gary Burton) and two of the four other songs (which has the quintet augmented by a brass section) are on this, along with a totally unreleased big band session from the following year. A powerful drummer with impressive technique, Morello is also a master of subtlety and, although an important part of this set, does not dominate the music. With Manny Albam contributing the arrangements, It's About Time was a happy surprise, a hard-driving set of swinging music. "

And from the absolutely breathless, it would seem, Shawn M. Haney:

"Awe-inspiring, stirring, soothing. These words can best describe the adventurous music led by legendary drummer Joe Morello. Here in this recording are tracks breathing alive with flair and resonance. The songs of spontaneous beauty, some speedy and some relaxed, seem to soar off the spinning black record. Others, such as the romantic, sullen "Every Time We Say Goodbye," seem to possess a dreamy, ethereal quality, delighting young couples toward a romantic mood. In the song "Just in Time," Morello sets the pace with a dashing, daring timbre, giving Phil Woods the freedom to explore melodically creative territory on his lush-sounding alto sax. Woods has been regarded as one of the finest sax soloists in the post-bop era. Gary Burton also receives creative expression to expand the record's musical variety in the use of a merry-go-round-like vibraphone. "Every limit in jazz and popular music has been stretched and broken with the passing years. Technical skills have been sharpened; musicians have turned what was once dazzling virtuosity into the professional norm." These are the written words of music critic George Avakian, who sincerely expresses the fact that jazz as an art has evolved to enter new heights, a startling yet fascinating new frontier in its creative direction. Thanks are due to Morello, who toured with his musical compatriot Dave Brubeck and his quartet, playing to well-received crowds largely in the '60s. Morello, the percussionist that he is, gave the jazz and musical world new ground to explore, concerning the field of timbre and percussive measures. He improvs in everything, including 6/4, 3/4, and 5/4, in this collection of songs. Though present in the back of the group, his leadership provides tremendous drive and sweeping force, eagerly inspiring Woods and Burton to reach and express their musical senses. Gene Cherco adds the baritone flavor on his steady marching walking bass, while John Bunch displays sweeping melody notes sitting down at the piano. This record is compelling and free-spirited, giving listeners a delightful picture of some of the best in '60s jazz."

Morello was a bad MF behind that suit, skinny tie, and thick glasses; but aren't so many fellows who look like that?

Joe Morello (drums)
Phil Woods (alto sax)
Bob Brookmeyer (trombone)
Gary Burton (vibraphone)
Urbie Green (trombone)
Ernie Royal (trumpet)
Al Cohn (tenor sax)
Clark Terry (trumpet)
Doc Severinsen (trumpet)
Bill Crow (bass)

1. Shortnin' Bread
2. When Johnny Comes Marching Home
3. Brother Jack
4. Ev'ry Time We Say Goodbye
5. Just In Time
6. It's Easy
7. Shimwa
8. Summertime
9. Little Bit of Blues
10. It's About Time
11. Every Time
12. Mother Time
13. Time After Time
14. My Time Is Your Time
15. Sounds of the Loop
16. Carioca

Track Of The Day

Carmen McRae - The Great American Songbook (1971)

On this popular two-LP set, singer Carmen McRae interprets songs by Duke Ellington, Cole Porter, Michel Legrand, Warren & Dubin, Henry Mancini, and Jimmy Van Heusen, among others, but it is her rendition of a humorous Jimmy Rowles novelty ("The Ballad of Thelonious Monk") that is best remembered. Joined by pianist Rowles, guitarist Joe Pass, bassist Chuck Domanico, and drummer Chuck Flores, McRae had what was at the time a rare opportunity to record a live, spontaneous, jazz-oriented set. She sounds quite enthusiastic about both her accompaniment and the strong repertoire, which includes "At Long Last Love," "I Only Have Eyes for You," "Sunday," "I Cried for You," and "I Thought About You." - Scott Yanow

Carmen McRae (vocals, piano)
Jimmy Rowles (piano)
Joe Pass (guitar)
Chuck Domanico (bass)
Chuck Flores (drums)
  1. Satin Doll
  2. At Long Last Love
  3. If the Moon Turns Green
  4. Day by Day
  5. What Are You Doing the Rest of Your Life
  6. I Only Have Eyes for You
  7. Easy Living/The Days of Wine and Roses/It's Impossible
  8. Sunday
  9. A Song for You
  10. I Cried for You
  11. Behind the Face
  12. The Ballad of Thelonious Monk
  13. There's No Such Thing as Love
  14. (They Long to Be) Close to You
  15. Three Little Words
  16. Mr. Ugly
  17. It's Like Reaching for the Moon
  18. I Thought About You
Recorded at Donte's, Los Angeles, November 6, 1971

The Prestige Records Story

A nice set, thoughtfully arranged and with a few out of the ordinary things (when did you last see Jungle Strut on a blog?) Check out the artwork for a very comprehensive booklet.

Along with Blue Note, Verve, and Riverside, Prestige was one of the most significant independent jazz labels of the '50s and '60s. It was especially important in the '50s, recording the decade's greatest figures--including Thelonious Monk, Miles Davis, Sonny Rollins, and John Coltrane--long before the major labels would beckon. This four-CD set traces the label from its founding by Bob Weinstock in 1949 until 1971 when it was sold to Fantasy.

The first two CDs in the collection take the music up to 1960, and they brim with superb tracks that demonstrate the label's depth, range, and vision, with performances by Monk, Lennie Tristano, and Gil Evans that sound as quirky and inspired as when they were recorded. Miles Davis was clearly the label's most significant artist until he left for Columbia in 1956; his work here ranges from the sparse and extended "Bags' Groove," with Monk and Milt Jackson, to hard-bitten bop. There's room here for the cool lyricism of Stan Getz on "Round Midnight" and the early Modern Jazz Quartet's beautiful "Django," as well as Rollins's hard-edged calypso, "St. Thomas," and Coltrane's brilliant, forward-looking contribution to Tadd Dameron's "On a Misty Night." Prestige also managed to have a few surprise hit vocals in the period, and it's terrific to have a disc that matches Wardell Gray's original "Twisted" and James Moody's "I'm in the Mood for Love," with Annie Ross's and King Pleasure's joyous, vocalise transformations.

As the set continues its chronological journey through the label's history after 1960, however, it takes an unusual turn. Prestige was remarkably diverse in the early '60s, with separate sublabels like New Jazz, Swingville, Moodsville, and Soulville to cover different genres, spanning the classic swing piano of Claude Hopkins and the atonal experiments of Don Ellis. It had an extensive, and excellent, blues catalogue and even released an LP of Norman Mailer's poetry. In this set's view of Prestige's history, however, that range gets very little attention, with the reissue producers favoring stylistic consistency over diversity. While there are nods to swing (Coleman Hawkins), the avant-garde (Eric Dolphy), and classic bop (Dexter Gordon), the set emphasizes the tenor-organ-guitar funk bands that were the label's commercial mainstay in its final active decade. That's not to argue with the quality of what's here, though. Gene Ammons's "Ca' Purange" is as potent as soul-jazz ever got, and there's much heartfelt, gritty music that communicates immediately.

It may simply be that the project required more discs (see The Blue Note Years) than this set includes, but the cumulative effect is schizophrenic, moving from the musically adventurous to the populist. Meanwhile, the first two discs provide as rich a view of jazz in 1950s New York as any single label could hope to provide (only Blue Note might hope to match it); they're an essential experience for listeners new to jazz or the period, while disc 4 may serve handily as exalted party music. --Stuart Broomer

Dexter Gordon - The Chase! The Complete Dial Sessions, 1947

I'm sure most of you already have these recordings (Chronogical, Master of Jazz, etc).
However, this is CD from Stash Records gathers all Dial recordings, plus alternate takes.
"The Chase" is a studio recreation of what Gordon and Gray were playing night after night during the spring of 1947.

---The Master Takes---
1. Mischievous Lady (a)
2. Lullaby in Rhythm (a)
3. The Chase [Pts. 1 & 2] (b)
4. Chromatic Aberration (c)
5. It's the Talk of the Town (c)
6. Bikini (c)
7. Ghost of a Chance (d)
8. Sweet and Lovely (d)
9. The Duel [Pts. 1 & 2] (e)
10. Blues in Teddy's Flat (f)
---The Alternate Takes---
11. Mischievous Lady (a)
12. Lullaby in Rhythm (a)
13. The Chase Pt. 1 (Breakdown) (b)
14. Iridescene (Chromatic Aberration) (c)
15. It's the Talk of the Town (c)
16. Ghost of a Chance (d)
17. Sweet and Lovely (d)
18. Hornin' In [The Duel Pts. 1 & 2] (e)

(a): Melba Liston (tb), Dexter Gordon (ts), Charles Fox (p), Red Callender (b), Chuck Thompson (d). Hollywood, CA, June 5, 1947
(b): Dexter Gordon (ts), Wardell Gray (ts), Jimmy Bunn (p) Red Callender (b) Chuck Thompson (d). Hollywood, CA, June 12, 1947
(c): Same Session, minus Gray
(d): Dexter Gordon (ts), Jimmy Rowles (p), Red Callender (b), Roy Porter (d). NYC, December 4, 1947.
(e): Same Session, add Teddy Edwards (ts).
(f): Same Session, minus Dordon.

Billy Harper - Black Saint (1975)

Tenor saxophonist Billy Harper helped launch the Italy-based Black Saint jazz label with this 1975 release. And not only does this represent the inaugural outing for the label, it also signifies one of the finest modern jazz releases of the '70s. Influenced by tenor sax giant John Coltrane, Harper proceeded to mold a distinctly personalized sound awash with slight inferences of R&B and hard bop. Additionally, the saxophonist's melodic gifts come to the forefront throughout this often-invigorating studio date. On the opening piece, titled "Dance Eternal Spirits, Dance," the tenor saxophonist fuses an engagingly melodic theme with lightning-fast flurries atop a peppery jazz waltz groove. Harper radiantly executes soul-searching lines atop a loosely based jazz waltz/swing vamp during "Croquet Ballet," as he alternates lower-register voicings with high-pitched, plaintive cries. Here the artist shrewdly reworks the primary melody as he literally interrogates his tenor saxophone. Highlights abound, while trumpeter Virgil Jones and pianist Joe Bonner provide Harper with buoyant frameworks via hearty soloing and intuitive support. Vigorously recommended. (Glen Astarita)

1.- Dance, Eternal Spirits, Dance!
2.- Croquet Ballet
3.- Call of the Wild and Peaceful Heart

Billy Harper (tenor sax and cow bell); Virgil Jones (trumpet); Joe Bonner (piano); David Friesen (bass); Malcolm Pinson (drums)

Recorded on July 21 & 22, 1975 at Barclay Studios, Paris.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

McCoy Tyner - Tender Moments

This is a Ron McMaster remastering: the case even has a sticker that says 'Original Issue'. Never seen that before.

Now 66 years old, McCoy Tyner has made countless albums and become an elder statesman of jazz. He is certainly best known as the pianist in the transformational John Coltrane Quartet of the '60s, but it was with Blue Note recordings like this one from 1967, recently reissued in remastered form, that he revealed his personality as a composer, arranger, and soloist.

Tender Moments was one of Tyner's first major explorations of the world of colors and textures available through arrrangements for large ensemble. He gathered together some of his musical friends (some of whom had recorded for Blue Note already) and created settings for them which showcased their ensemble and solo prowess, as well as his own burgeoning skills as a colorist and architect. Tenor saxophonist Bennie Maupin and flute player James Spaulding offer some of their finest solo work, adding rich dimensions to Tyner's themes, particularly on "Man from Tanganyika" and "The High Priest." And Lee Morgan—a fellow Philadelphian—is his ever-soulful and assured self, particularly on his blues feature "Lee Plus Three," where it's just Morgan with piano, bass, and drums.

From the beginning, we are in the presence of someone concerned with texture. The low brass beautifully complements the lighter statement of "Mode to John," Tyner's tribute to his old boss. On the jaunty and rhythmic "Man from Tanganyika" the flute and piano tandem on the theme and then the brass players' coloration gives the tune its clear shape.

Tyner's tribute to Monk is quite original—he has created a Monkish theme and some intriguing horn lines and fills, without for a second sacrificing the sound that we know as his own. As in all his solo passages, Tyner manages to be subtle, engaging, and yet the same player who so drove the Coltrane band.

The album's high point is the album's tenderest moment: the gorgeous "All My Yesterdays." It's a true ballad—with an exquisitely slow tempo all the way through—and low brass that is all about color. Tyner's solo is uncharacteristically gentle.

Tender Moments is all about architecture and scene painting, and as such it stands as a key marker in the recorded career path of one of the music's most individual artists. ~ Donald Elfman

McCoy Tyner (piano)
Lee Morgan (trumpet)
James Spaulding (flute, alto sax)
Bennie Maupin (tenor sax)
Julian Priester (trombone)
Howard Johnson (tuba)
Bob Northern (French horn)
Herbie Lewis (bass)
Joe Chambers (drums)

1. Mode To John
2. Man From Tanganyika
3. The High Priest
4. Utopia
5. All My Yesterdays
6. Lee Plus Three

Van Gelder Studios, Englewood, New Jersey: December 1, 1967

Woody Shaw - Blackstone Legacy

Originally a two-fer on vinyl and now on one CD, Shaw's debut as a leader is one of the first "free bop" sessions, in many ways his answer to Bitches Brew. The trumpeter's ensemble extracts dense, energetic, meaty collective sounds based in pure improvisation with a skeleton of a rhythmic framework to expound upon. Saxophonists Gary Bartz & Bennie Maupin, electric pianist George Cables, twin bassists Ron Carter and Clint Houston, and drummer Lenny White respond to Shaw's heavy direction, making for some of the most kinetic jazz heard in that period of early fusion.

Shaw's bright melodicism, hard edged swing and refusal to compromise are his greatest assets. They come shining through on tuneful classics like the unstoppable "Think On Me" and stop-start gymnastics of "Boo-Ann's Grand." It represents the progressive bop aesthetic at a fever pitch. The title track is as wild and wooly as Woody could be, while "Lost & Found" is free bop at its finest. "New World" is a free funk number, quite a trend setter for its time, while "A Deed For Dolphy" shows an abstract, no-time side rarely heard from Shaw. All tunes are quite lengthy, no shorter than nine, no longer than seventeen minutes. This allows the band to develop their ideas and interact in a manner more akin to a concert setting. Bartz (alto and soprano saxophone) and Maupin (tenor saxophone, bass clarinet and flute) consistently show why they are two of the best improvising jazzmen out there.

As much as the music is the thing, it is the singular presence of Shaw that refracts many colors of light and dark, like a multi-hued beacon directing many ships to port. There is not a better example of this music from its inception, documented on tape, than this other worldly session that brought the trumpeter to the jazz world's attention. Furthermore, few have done it better since. Truly a landmark recording, and a pivot point in the history of post-modern music.

Woody Shaw (trumpet)
Gary Bartz (alto, soprano sax)
Bennie Maupin (tenor sax, bass clarinet, flute)
George Cables (piano)
Ron Carter (bass)
Clint Houston (bass)
Lenny White (drums)

1 Blackstone Legacy
2 Think On Me
3 Lost and Found
4 New World
5 Boo Ann's Grand
6 A Deed for Dolphy

Recorded December 8-9, 1970

Track Of The Day

Joe Jackson - Will Power (1987)

Listening to Joe Jackson's new, all-instrumental album, ''Will Power'' (A&M) one is reminded of George Gershwin's rapid development from a Tin Pan Alley tunesmith into a composer of serious concert music in the 1920's. The compositions on ''Will Power,'' written and scored by Mr. Jackson for a 40-piece orchestra, include his 16-minute impressionistic ''Symphony in One Movement,'' a Chopinesque ''Nocturne'' for solo piano, the sharply percussive Latin-flavored ''No Pasaran,'' and ''Solitude,'' a piece inspired by the Duke Ellington song of which it incorporates a fragment sung by a boy soprano.

The album represents a major step forward by an English composer and performer who has never remained in one place for long. Since storming the pop charts as an angry post-punk rocker in 1979, Mr. Jackson has moved into the pop mainstream with songs whose arrangements have incorporated Far Eastern and Latin American rhythms and textures and lyrics that unblinkingly contemplate the problems of the world.

Mr. Jackson, who studied piano, composition, percussion and orchestration for three years at London's Royal Academy of Music in the early 1970's, turned to orchestral music largely because of the difficulties of writing lyrics.

''While music comes easily, I find lyric writing harder than anything else,'' he said the other day in his New York apartment. ''It's not as though I decided out of the blue to make an instrumental album. I've been working on the pieces for three years. Writing orchestral music is a natural progression and something I plan to do from now on. Stylistically, these pieces are a continuation of my songs, but with no lyrics and the music stretched a lot further. The musicians are a hybrid ensemble which has elements of a rock band, a jazz band, and a big band, but with 34 strings.''
Mr. Jackson's one-movement symphony is his refinement of a 20-minute film score he wrote two years ago for an exhibition in Japan's Expo '85. ''No Pasaran,'' with its brutal percussive punctuation, is the album's most programmatic piece, and it represents Mr. Jackson's reaction to events in Nicaragua.

''This may be the angriest piece of music I've ever written,'' he said. ''It's about the violence directed by this country against Nicaragua - a subject I feel so strongly about that I wouldn't know what to say in words that didn't sound clumsy and preachy. I wanted to tell a little history of Nicaragua in music that builds up tension punctuated by violent, increasingly frequent shocks until everything explodes in the 1979 revolution. Then the music settles into a sustained tension that ends ambiguously.''

Mr. Jackson views his new album as part of a broader movement by pop composers and ''new age'' instrumentalists to break down what he described as ''the artificial barriers separating classical and pop.'' ''I don't believe in the separation of art and entertainment - of highbrow and lowbrow,'' he said. ''For me the future of music lies in eclecticism and collaboration among different musical areas. One thing I know is that is at 32, I can't fool myself into feeling like a teen-age rock-and-roll rebel.'' Stephen Holden, Published: Wednesday, April 22, 1987 NYT

1. No Pasaran 6:03
2. Solitude 9:35
3. Will Power 5:50
4. Nocturne 4:24
5. Symphony in One Movement 16:14

Recorded at RCA Studios, New York City in February, 1986 and January, 1987

Dexter Gordon - 1974 The Complete Hamburg Concert

Brilliantly recorded in stereo live at Hamburger Fabrik, Hamburg, Germany, May 18, 1974, this previously unissued complete concert was the first live performance by Dexter Gordon and the NDF band, formerly known as the NDR Studio Band, conducted by Bosnian trumpeter Dusko Goykovich, who also acted as MC and arranger. New and careful remastered sound, the range of styles displayed moves in an ample range of styles, going from somewhat funky tunes like Horace Silver's "Psychedelic Sally" or Goykovich's own "What Kind of Blues" to classic jazz compositions by Duke Ellington and Luis Russell, which maintain the sound of the swing orchestra.
The band features several guests : Herb Geller, Slide Hampton, Horace Parlan, Tony Inzalaco and Goykovich himself. All of the soloists have stellar moments in this concert. Dexter plays solos on most of the pieces and is featured on the ballad "Guess I’ll Hang My Tears Out To Dry". Herb Geller displays his talents on alto sax, soprano sax and flute. The cousin of Lionel Hampton, trombonist Slide Hampton, exhibits the whole range of the jazz trombone in this concert.
Created after the end of the Second World War, the NDR big band belongs to the Norddeutscher Rundfunk NDR [North German Broadcasting], a public radio and television broadcaster, based in Hamburg. It was known as the "NDR Studio Band" from 1955 to 1971, when it was re baptized as the "NDR Big Band".
As the NDR continually received American and Europen jazzmen as guests, the personnel frequently changed. No discography gives the exact NDR personnel in this concert. Some names (Goykovich, Gordon, Hampton, Geller, Schlüter, Parlan and Inzalaco) are announced several times, others are only probable names as they were playing with Goykovich, Parlan and Inzalaco on other big band recordings during that same year. It seems that a couple of unidentified trumpet players were also present.

CD 1:
01. Psychedelic Sally (10:33) - Silver
02. Contacts (3:14) - Krautgartner
03. Every Man Is A King (11:07) - Hampton
04. Drinking Son (6:38) - Gruntz
05. The Waltz (9:06) - Hampton
06. Mo’ Joe (15:02) - Henderson

CD 2:
01. What Kind Of Blues (14:43) - Goykovich
02. Guess I’ll Hang My Tears Out To Dry (6:35) - Cahn/Styne
03. Saturday Night Function (5:29) - Bigard/Ellington
04. Jersey Lightning (3:23) - Russell
05. Latin Haze (10:09) - Goykovich
06. It’s About Time (15:31) - Goykovich

Recorded live at Hamburger Fabrik, Hamburg (Germany), on May 18, 1974

Dexter Gordon Sax (Tenor)
Dusko Goykovich Trumpet, MC, Conductor
Ack Van Rooyen Trumpet, Flugelhorn
Slide Hampton Trombone
Peter Herbolzheimer Trombone
Gerd Lachmann Trombone
Rudi Füsers Trombone
Herb Geller Flute, Sax (Alto, Soprano)
Wolfgang Schlüter Vibraphone
Horace Parlan Organ, Piano
Heinz Kitschenberg Bass, Guitar
Tony Inzalaco Drums
Horst Mühlbradt Percussion
Hermann Mutscheler Percussion

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

R. Rudd, S. Lacy, M. Mengelberg, K. Carter, H. Bennink - Regeneration (1982)

In 1982, very few people were aware of late pianist Herbie Nichols' name, much less playing his music. Versatile avant-garde pianist Misha Mengelberg gathered together a noteworthy group (comprised of trombonist Roswell Rudd, soprano saxophonist Steve Lacy, bassist Kent Carter, and drummer Han Bennink) to play three songs apiece by Nichols and Thelonious Monk. The musicians very much understood the composers' purposes, and on such numbers as "Monk's Mood," "Friday the 13th," "Blue Chopsticks," and "2300 Skiddoo" (the latter two had never been recorded with a group larger than a trio before), they come up with definitive treatments. Highly recommended. (Scott Yanow)

1. Blue Chopsticks
2. 2300 Skiddoo
3. Twelve Bars
4. Monk's Mood
5. Friday the 13th
6. Epistrophy

Roswell Rudd (trombone); Steve Lacy (soprano saxophone); Misha Mengelberg (piano); Ken Carter (bass); Han Bennink (drums).

Recorded on June 25 and 26, 1982 at Barigozzi Studio, Milano (Italy).

Charlie Parker with Woody Herman - Bird With The Herd

This has been a well known and desirable bootleg since the time it was recorded, and like so many other things it finally made it to CD. The sound is what we have come to expect - and often value - from the early tape recorders that were available to enthusiasts at the time. I don't know anybody who dismisses a Jerry Newman or Dean Benedetti tape because of the quality. The material is just too rare and often too good to dismiss it out of hand.

In this case the fan with the tape recorder - a portable reel-to-reel - was Urbie Green (earlier this year we had a live performance taped by, I forget...Kenny Dorham? Dannie Richmond?) and the reason that Bird was on stage with the Herman outfit is not certain. Or to be more precise, the reason Bird was in KC is uncertain - Parker and Herman had a mutual respect and admiration for each other. They appeared on stage together on at least one other occasion, but this is the only known recording of such an occurence. Two versions of 'Leo The Lion' are here because apparently Bird was not happy with his first attempt, and called the tune again later to try it again. This is the kind of thing that make these 'field recordings' so valuable. And rewarding.

If you ever want to hear the real brilliance of Bird, check out the way he "thinks" his way through the bridge of Four Brothers the first time 'round, cautiously pawing at the changes. Next time the bridge comes up, Bird has internalized that bridge and sounds like he's played it his whole life! Otherwise, this album is a very pleasant listening experience. Don't be put off by the unlikely pairing: these two artists had enormous respect for each other. And it shows. ... A historic concert worth hearing. Probably the earliest recording of pianist Dave McKenna. ~ Amazon

As is often the case with Charlie Parker's live recordings from the 1950s, this rare performance has erratic sound and bad balance. Still this session, which finds Bird sitting in with Woody Herman's Third Herd, is quite unique. Parker is the main soloist throughout the budget LP, getting a chance to play some fresh material like "The Goof and I," "Four Brothers," and "Lemon Drop" and to interact with a big band. ~ Scott Yanow

Charlie Parker (alto sax)
Woody Herman (clarinet)
Dave McKenna (piano)
Bill Perkins (tenor sax)
Don Fagerquist (trumpet)
Urbie Green (trombone)

1. You Go To My Head
2. Leo The Lion
3. Cuban Holiday
4. Nearness Of You
5. Lemon Drop
6. Goof And I
7. Laura
8. Four Brothers
9. Leo The Lion

Matthew Shipp - Thesis

Joe is one of the most unique, singular and focused artists on the planet. - Matthew Shipp

In jazz circles, Matthew Shipp is perhaps best known as the pianist in the David S. Ware Quartet. Ware plays raw, bracing tenor sax rooted in Sonny Rollins and Albert Ayler, but even more closely resembles something we might project out of the painful searching of John Coltrane's last works. But with Shipp and bass titan William Parker, the Ware Quartet is more than the sum of its parts, and albums like Earthquation (DIW, 1994), Godspellized (DIW, 1996), and Go See the World (Columbia, 1998) stand as landmarks of free jazz in the '90s.

Shipp also recorded frequently as the leader of small groups, where his distinctive piano -- think of a more muscular Monk and a more deliberate Powell exploring in depth terrain that Cecil Taylor first flew over -- engaged in intimate dialogue with other stalwart avant-gardists. The early series of albums is mostly of interest to specialists, although: Zo is a sparkling duo with Parker; The Multiplication Table, perhaps because it is a conventional piano trio, is a fine showcase for Shipp; and the albums with violinist Mat Manieri (The Flow of X, a quartet, and Expansion, Power, Release, a trio with William Parker on bass) suggest then transcend some form of quasiclassical chamber jazz.

Matthew Shipp (piano)
Joe Morris (guitar)

1. Thesis
2. Fable
3. Simple Relations
4. Particle 1
5. The Wand
6. Action And Reaction
7. Center Of
8. The Turnpike
9. Form Of "Y"
10. Broader Orders
11. Particle 2
12. The Middle Region
13. Our Journey

January 23, 1997

Track Of The Day

Grant Green - Idle Moments

To my surprise, this hasn’t been posted before.
I think that this is the best thing Grant Green ever made.

The first track “Idle Moments” is a marvelous “blue” ballad by Duke Pearson that clocks at 15 minutes, but I wish it could last more!
The alternate takes of “Jean De Fleur” and “Django” were rejected for being too lengthy for the album. So the band entered the studio a few days later to cur shorter versions, which were used for the LP version.
Now, we can enjoythe whole session!

Tracks 1, 3, 5 & 6 recorded on November 4, 1963 and tracks 2 & 4 on November 15, 1963 at the Van Gelder Studio, Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey.
Transfered by Ron McMaster, 1988

1. Idle Moments (14:58) (Duke Pearson)
2. Jean De Fleur (6:49) (Grant Green)
3. Jean De Fleur - alt take (8:09) (Grant Green)
4. Django (8:45) (John Lewis)
5. Django - alt take (13:13) (John Lewis)
6. Nomad (12:18) (Duke Pearson)

Seegs brings us ...

Please note that this excellent series The Best Pianists You Never Heard…Maybe is brought to us entirely through the efforts of Seegs. All thanks are due to him and him only.

The Best Pianists You Never Heard…Maybe Part 3

Jimmy Amadie – The Philadelphia Story: The Gospel as We Know It

It’s wonderful the way jazz sneaks up on you. For a while I had a long commute from northern Jersey to Philadelphia. I developed a routine: listening to WBGO, the jazz station from Newark (streaming world wide at www.wbgo.org), ‘til I got too far south to pick them up; then I’d switch to the jazz show on WRTI, the Temple University Station. One Friday night I was listening to WRTI host Jeff Duperon interview some guy who was talking about playing with Benny Golson, Lew Tabackin, and Randy Brecker. Duperon spun a track from a new CD called, “The Philadelphia Story: the Gospel as We Know It” that absoloutely knocked me out. I phoned Duperon to find out who this guy was. It was Jimmy Amadie. I wondered how come I’d never heard of a piano player this good who can enlist top talent for his CD!

The reason was that Amadie’s burgeoning career (playing with Charlie Parker, Charlie Ventura, Red Rodney, Woody Herman, Mel Torme and others as a young man) was derailed by severe tendonitis in his hands. He dropped out of jazz for several decades, during which he underwent a number of hand operations and rehabilitations. Finally able to play again, Jimmy Amadie came back with a series of terrific CDs featuring the likes of Phil Woods and those aforementioned players, who, like Amadie himself, hail from Philadelphia. Seventy years old at the time of this recording, Jimmy Amadie’s musical voice is rich with experience and history.

This is grade A certified jazz with a special Philly stamp on it. Take a listen.

Jimmy Amadie piano
Benny Golson tenor sax
Lew Tabackin tenor sax, flute
Randy Brecker trumpet, flugel horn
Steve Gilmore bass
Bill Goodwin drums, percussion

1. LT’s Express
2. Bossa Swing
3. Michael’s Lament (a blues for Michael Brecker, who had recently passed away)
4. The Gospel as We Know It
5. Randy’s Sufflin Blues
6. Marching with Benny “G”
7. Samba for Lew “T”
8. Alone Together
9. Lew’s Moode
10. The Man I Love
11. Warm and Gentle Ben
12. No Greater Love

Tommy Newsom & His TV Jazz Stars (1990)

The title and cover of this Laserlight budget CD exude cheapness, but this is a dandy little recording that deserves more exposure. At the time of this session all the players, save for David Stone, were members of the Tonight Show Band and Tommy Newsom was the lead alto, assistant conductor and chief arranger. Conte Candoli and Snooky Young are outstanding throughout this session and I think Newsom's playing on tenor and soprano saxes will surprise you.

Tommy Newsom, best-known for his participation on Johnny Carson's Tonight Show (where he appeared as a straight man for Carson and Doc Severinsen's jokes) is also an excellent Zoot Sims-inspired tenor saxophonist. This CD, his long overdue debut as a leader, has two contrasting trumpeters in Snooky Young (who sings "It Don't Mean a Thing") and Conte Candoli and a strong rhythm section comprised of pianist Ross Tompkins, bassist David Stone and drummer Ed Shaughnessy. Switching to soprano on his multi-sectioned "Three Shades of Blues" and swinging on tenor in a Four Brothers vein elsewhere, Tommy Newsom's performance throughout the swinging set is quite impressive. - Scott Yanow

Tommy Newsom (tenor, soprano sax)
Conte Candoli, Snooky Young (trumpet)
Ross Tompkins (piano)
David Stone (bass)
Ed Shaughnessy (drums)
  1. Cottontail
  2. Dream Dancing
  3. It Don't Mean a Thing If It Ain't Got That Swing
  4. Three Shades of Blue
  5. Red Door
  6. Georgia on My Mind
  7. So Danco Samba
  8. Tickle-Toe
  9. Boy Meets Horn
  10. How Could You Do a Thing Like That to Me
  11. Con Alma
  12. Northwest Passage
Recorded April 23-24, 1990

Oliver Lake - Zaki

Jazz music continually tries to outpace the long shadow cast by its past. On the one hand, it's the music of the vanguard, an art form built on a spirit of risk-taking and experimentation. On the other, the progressive spirit started with Charlie Parker and extended by Ornette Coleman (and several others) seemed to have stopped short with John Coltrane's death in 1967. But in the mid 1970s, Switzerland's hatHUT label persevered, survived and even thrived in waters markedly outside the music's mainstream by, above all, offering the decade's top free jazz talent artistic liberty and a commitment of support.

The reissue of Zaki, a 1979 performance from a concert in Willisau, Switzerland, given by the relatively short-lived Oliver Lake Trio (Lake on alto, tenor and soprano saxophones, Michael Gregory Jackson on electric guitar and Pheeroan akLaff on drums), exemplifies the musical ambition and non-commerciality for which the label is today known. Without a bass to anchor the rhythm, Lake, Jackson and akLaff turn the typical musical triangle on its tip, with Lake and Jackson trading lines and ideas as equals on top of the rhythmic support supplied by the drummer. The continual hoarseness in the sound of each of Lake's horns infuses his parts with urgency, while Jackson's runs are dexterous and nimble. There is an implicit egalitarianism in this trio's spontaneity and interaction.

Without a doubt, this recording captures a special concert by a band that wasn't together for too long. But it's also true that the music was created on a night many years ago. The question reissues raise is this: should free jazz continually look to its past for its innovation, or are there musicians today making music at this level of artistry and creativity? With its new releases, hatOLOGY answers yes to the question, but reissues like Zaki guard against forgetting how we got here. ~ Jeff Stockton

Zaki captures the Oliver Lake Trio live at the 1979 Willisau Jazz Festival. Lake was also performing at the festival as a member of the World Saxophone Quartet and was asked to have his trio, which had been performing together for about three years, participate as well. This trio, sans bass, features Michael Gregory Jackson on electric guitar and Pheeroan Aklaff on drums. Throughout the 78 minutes of spontaneous free jazz, many risks are taken, sometimes rewarding, occasionally repetitious. This is especially the case on the nearly 24-minute "Zaki," which loses the thread about halfway through. Lake triples between alto, tenor, and soprano saxophones. ~ Al Campbell

Oliver Lake (alto, tenor and soprano sax)
Michael Gregory Jackson (guitar)
Pheeroan akLaff (drums)

1. Zaki
2. Clicker
3. Shine
4. 5/1
5. Zaki

Willisau, Switzerland: September 1, 1979

Monday, June 1, 2009

Walt Dickerson - This Is Walt Dickerson ! (1961)

Walt Dickerson never got quite the credit he deserved for pioneering a modernist approach to the vibes during the early '60s, aligning himself with the emerging "new thing" scene and expanding the instrument's vocabulary beyond Milt Jackson's blues and bop influences. Dickerson's groundbreaking sessions for Prestige all predated the rise of Bobby Hutcherson as the hot new "out" vibes player at Blue Note, and while Hutcherson was a bit freer early on, Dickerson's work still sounded adventurous and forward-looking. This Is Walt Dickerson!, his opening salvo, is every bit the statement of purpose the exclamatory title suggests. Each of the six selections is a Dickerson original, and he proves to be a marvelously evocative composer. Witness the cool, film-noir ambience of the mildly dissonant opener, "Time"; the haunting atmospherics of "Elizabeth," a tribute to his wife; the way the repeated riff of "Death and Taxes" imparts the sense of drudgery and inevitability suggested by the title; or the way Dickerson and pianist Austin Crowe keep twisting the rhythmic emphasis and cadences over the repetitive beat of "The Cry." Dickerson's harmonically advanced playing is just as distinctive, too. He keeps the use of vibrato to a bare minimum, so much so that it's almost a shock when he lets some shimmering chords ring out on "Infinite You"; moreover, his use of rubber mallets instead of the customary felt-tipped augments his soft, controlled tone. In addition to Crowe, Dickerson is backed by bassist Bob Lewis and future Cecil Taylor drummer Andrew Cyrille. A striking debut, This Is Walt Dickerson! sets the stage for continued excellence, but also proves that Dickerson's talent was already fully formed. (Steve Huey)

1.- Time
2.- Elizabeth
3.- The Cry
4.- Death and Taxes
5.- Evelyn
6.- Infinite You

Walt Dickerson (vibraphone); Austin Crowe (piano); Bob Lewis (bass); Andrew Cyrille (drums).

Recorded in Englewood Cliffs, NJ on March 7, 1961.

Track Of The Day

Anthony Braxton - Composition N. 247

Somewhat of a contrast to the modern jazz/improv-based ensemble work witnessed on the acclaimed multi-reedman/composer’s recent releases on “hatOLOGY” and the “C.I.M.P” jazz labels, Anthony Braxton’s Composition N. 247 is a trio outing featuring saxophonist/clarinetist James Fei and bagpipe performer, Matthew Welch. Hence, an unlikely instrumentation mix, yet Braxton, ever the innovator, perhaps parallels a scientist attempting to hurdle a complex mathematical formula, due to the implied complexities and geometric attributes of the music exhibited here. Basically, this new extended composition resides within the artist’s “Ghost Trance Music” series, which he describes as a “melody that doesn’t end”.

James Fei should be commended for his extensive and articulate play-by-play of the mechanics and overall implications of this piece as he also proceeds to expound upon the sonic characteristics of bagpipes. Naturally, this composition presents it’s fair share of challenges to the musicians, who need to be in synch while performing hypnotic and at times, minimalist style unison lines amid seamless shifts in tempo. Therefore, getting all this done in one take, presented more than a few obstacles. However, listening to this piece in one sitting should be deemed a prerequisite, although when viewed upon as a whole, the invariability of the proceedings demands an acute attention span, especially when considering all of the subtle nuances and barely detectable transformations. ~ Glenn Astarita

"Composition N. 247" (which makes up the whole duration of this CD) is part of Anthony Braxton's Ghost Trance Music series. An untypical gesture, this one is scored for a specific instrumentation of two reeds and bagpipes. The latter, performed by Matthew Welch, gives the piece a highly unusual sound (the place of bagpipes in creative music is close to nil). Another difference from most of the other GTM compositions resides in the fact that the string of eighth notes serving as the looped motif also includes occasional rhythmically complex figures (such as 16th notes quintuplets), which disrupt the steady march of the piece. One final novelty: The piece uses only nine notes -- the ones available on the bagpipes. All this being said, the resulting piece makes one huge hour-long marathon involving constant circular breathing and a complex system of cues, shifts, and bouncing between pages. It leaves the listener, who does not have the score to follow its intricate subtleties, exhausted and perplexed. The drone of the bagpipes opens interesting polyphonies and the cycling repeated motifs create an hallucinogenic state of mind, but most listeners will prefer to push the stop button before they reach the end. And one can hardly blame them. James Fei's liner notes bring shed some light on the piece. ~ François Couture

Anthony Braxton (soprano, f, and alto sax, e-flat and contrabass clarinet) (right channel)
James Fei (soprano and alto sax, bass clarinet) (left channel)
Matthew Welch (bagpipes)

1. Composition N. 247

Matthew Shipp - Harmony And Abyss

Following up pianist Matthew Shipp's Equilibrium, a breakthrough record in a career of musical high points, was clearly a difficult challenge. And, to be sure, as revolutionary as Shipp's career has been and as much a shift in direction as Equilibrium was, his new disk, Harmony and Abyss is more of an evolutionary record, taking the concepts of Equilibrium that extra step further.

Reconvening the same group of players, with the exception of vibraphonist Khan Jamal, there's a little less of a street groove and more of the neoclassical side to Shipp that has emerged gradually over the past few years. Still, the street isn't far away, as "Ion" combines an anthem-like theme with an urban drum groove. But "Virgin Complex," with William Parker's arco bass and Shipp's repetitive theme, is ultimately developed as a piece through FLAM's judicious editing and sound processing. FLAM's role in Shipp's recent efforts has been debated, but in the same way that David Torn, in the role of producer, has added an aural breadth to some of Tim Berne's recent work, so does FLAM expand upon what the musicians play, giving the whole affair a unique and cohesive vibe.

Even though there are clear shifts on the record "Galaxy 105" is a relatively unaffected free-blowing piece that comes the closest to actually swinging as anything on the disk the entire record has a sense of unity. "String Theory" may be an exercise in industrial sonics, as a dense, jagged rhythm sets the foundation for Shipp's brooding excursions and FLAM's synthesizers, reverse-looping and other textural contributions colour the space, but it is ultimately of a oneness with tracks including "Amino Acid" which also explore more ambience and sometimes emulation of natural textures.

Trying to assess what to call Shipp's recent work is pointless. There are elements of electronica in the timbres, but there's rarely a breakbeat or techno rhythm to be found. Free jazz, sure, as a short piece like "Invisible Light" is unquestionably a completely spontaneous creation. Neoclassical, absolutely, as tracks including the aforementioned "Ion," as well as "Blood 2 the Brain" would demonstrate. And "Abyss," with its rich soundscape, owes more than a little to the ambient precedence of Brian Eno.

But what ultimately makes Harmony and Abyss not only a standout record on its own, but the next logical step in the development of Matthew Shipp's work since the inception of Thirsty Ear's Blue Series five years back, is the way that he integrates these varied elements into a distinctive sound, and how he manages to gradually reinvent himself with every record he makes. Like a memorable journey, Harmony and Abyss is yet another fine stop on a road that has been distinguished with intriguing and challenging landmarks. ~ All About Jazz

When pianist and composer Matthew Shipp embraced electronic keyboards and sampling, he made the decision to follow the path the music cut for him, even if it led away from jazz. The result of this journey has been richly and rewardingly detailed on his own albums for Thirsty Ear in the Blue series and those of his collaborators. On Harmony and Abyss, Shipp moves even further afield into repetitive melodic and harmonic structures that have more in common with vanguard song forms than they do jazz or free improvisation. None of the pieces here is over six and a half minutes and the majority of them are in the four-minute range. Here, melodic and rhythmic ideas are stated as harmonic and chromatic concepts, endlessly repeated and mutated until they change shape and focal points. The result is fascinating and compelling, but there is no longer any resemblance to jazz. If anything, these pieces feel more like vanguard classical pieces viewed through an electronic prism, even if the piano is their starting point. Bassist William Parker, drummer Gerald Cleaver, and sampling slice-and-dice whiz FLAM follow Shipp's lead, taking him through twists and turns that end in increasingly strange and often beautiful places. This is a challenging record, one that does not easily or readily give up its secrets. But its rewards more than make up for the effort. Shipp is going his own way here into the rabbit hole; listeners would be well advised to track him because where he's going, no one has gone before. ~ Thom Jurek

Matthew Shipp (synthesizer, piano)
William Parker (bass)
Gerald Cleaver (drums)

1. Ion
2. New ID
3. 3 In 1
4. Virgin Complex
5. Galaxy 105
6. String Theory
7. Blood 2 The Brain
8. Invisible Light
9. Amino Acid
10. Abyss

Olivier Greif - Sonate & Piano Trio

And now for something completely different - compared to what you might ask.

Who was Olivier Greif? A composer with a relatively short life, from 1950 to 2000. A creator whose music seemed to be crafted with the intention of making the listener lose himself in the detail of works with the attractiveness of deliberately heterogeneous mosaics. This maze of production nears some one hundred works. No matter in what score one happened to encounter Olivier Greif's world, the effect produced by his music is always the same. You want to know more about the man and about his work. The fifth anniversary of his sudden death—he was found seated at his piano, after several days [cause of death officially unknown]—on a Friday, May 13, provided the occasion for a panoramic approach. - Pierre Gervasoni for Le Monde